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Owl Gifts

Owls have large forward-facing eyes and ear-holes, a hawk-like beak, a flat face, and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers, a facial disc, around each eye. Most birds of prey sport eyes on the sides of their heads, but the stereoscopic nature of the owl's forward-facing eyes permits a greater sense of depth perception necessary for low-light hunting.

Snowy Owls

The snowy owl is a species of large owl. First classified in the 18th century by Linnaeus, the "father of taxonomy," the snowy owl was originally believed to be the sole member of its own taxonomic genus, nyctea. It has been reclassified and now bears the scientific name Bubo scandiacus, sharing its genus with a number of other species of owl.

The snowy owl's range extends from the northernmost Arctic tundra of the Northern Hemisphere throughout Canada and northern mainland Eurasia. The snowy owl breeds in the northernmost regions of its range, and travel towards the south of their range in the winter. Snowy owls have been spotted outside their typical range, sometimes as far south as the south of the United States.

On average, the snowy owl measures between 20 and 28 inches in length and weighs between about three and a half and six and a half pounds with a wingspan of 49 to 59 inches, making it one of the largest species of owl. The snowy owl has a black beak and yellow eyes, but is best known for its thick white feathers. Male snowy owls have almost entirely white plumage, while females typically have dark scalloping on their otherwise white feathers.

Unlike most species of owl, the snowy owl hunts during the day. It typically relies mostly on small rodents, especially lemmings, as a food source, but may also hunt birds or small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons. The snowy owl is an opportunistic hunter and therefore can have a fair amount of variety in its diet, especially during the winter when food can be less abundant.

The snowy owl generally hunts by simply waiting for prey to emerge, then striking either in air, on the ground, or above the surface of water. Like many species of bird, the snowy owl swallows small prey whole. Its stomach is capable of digesting whole prey and forming elements such as bone that cannot be digested into small pellets that the owl later regurgitates.

Though it faces few natural threats, the snowy owl must often fend off predators such as arctic foxes, gray wolves, and predatory birds that target young snowy owls during the nesting season. While the adult snowy owl is not prey to wolves, foxes, predatory birds, and weasels, it competes with them for shared food sources. The snowy owl does not face an apparent danger from humans and is classified by the IUCN with a conservation status of "least concern."

The snowy owl is valued by humans for its beauty and as a symbol, being a much favored species among birdwatchers and those who appreciate nature. Additionally, the snowy owl is the official bird of Canada's province of Quebec.

About the Author
Jacob Maddox manages content for Wildlife Animals an educational wildlife and animal website.

Owl Gifts



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