Speaking of snowbirds, have you met the snowy owl?

Object of the Month: 02/2014

What is it?:

Male snowy owlSnowy owl
Snowy owlCourtesy SMM

Where was it collected:

Collected on north slope of Beufort Lagoon, Arctic Ocean, Alaska, 1974 by Dale Chelberg


21.4 inches long


3.3 pounds

Accession #: Z74:2:147

The people we call “snowbirds” head south each winter to escape the cold temperatures. The real snowbirds, like this snowy owl, head south for more important reasons.

This season snowy owls, which normally winter in their tundra breeding range, have been spotted as far south as Florida and the Bahamas. Many have been seen at locations all around Minnesota, including right here in the Twin Cities.

Unavailability of lemmings, the favored food of snowy owls, has likely sent the birds south looking for food. And due to the stressful circumstances of their heading south, many of our visiting snowy owls this winter will not survive to return to their tundra homes this summer.

If you want to see one of these majestic creatures here in the city, look up high. Snowy owls love to spend long periods of time perched on roof tops, flag and utility poles and antennas.

TalonsCourtesy SMM
Here in Minnesota, snowy owls like to lunch on mice, rats, rabbits, pigeons, turkeys or anything they can find opportunistically to capture. They use their long, sharp talons to snare their live prey (see inset photo).

This specimen is a male snowy owl. Feathers on adult males are mostly white. Females, on the other hand, will have brown flecking throughout their feather coat.

Click here to see a slideshow of snowy owls flying, hunting and eating in the wild.

Click here to read more information about snowy owls' existence in Minnesota.

Feeling creative? Use the box below to type in your own label about snowy owls for other museum visitors to read!!! Read what others are saying about the birds, too.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

eli's picture
eli says:

Snowy owls are very secretive. Once I thought I saw in th snow two black leaves. Then I noticed that they were actually eyes. But when I looked back, they were gone. All that was left was a hole in the snow with twigs in it.

posted on Sat, 02/08/2014 - 3:57pm
jamarcus de farticus's picture
jamarcus de farticus says:

i like dat bird, that's a niiiiice bird.

posted on Sat, 02/08/2014 - 6:40pm
jacob's picture
jacob says:

it,s freakie

posted on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 2:15pm
jordan's picture
jordan says:

i like to sing frozen songs

posted on Thu, 02/13/2014 - 12:19pm
alondra's picture
alondra says:

snowy is the greatest owl in the world and i love its white fur.nd its talens are so cool.also it is kind of scary.i love the snowy

posted on Thu, 02/13/2014 - 2:10pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Today's Star-Tribune reports that more than 200 snowy owls have been seen in Minnesota this winter. Here's the full report on the state's winter census of owls.

posted on Thu, 02/13/2014 - 3:44pm
walter.'s picture
walter. says:

owls have sharp talons.

posted on Fri, 02/14/2014 - 8:44pm
Andrea's picture
Andrea says:

The snowy owl is more than a messanger owl for Harry Potter. Come find out more!

posted on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 2:01pm
Bailey's picture
Bailey says:

the snowy owl is a bird and birds fly so it obviously flys duhhhhh! birds are cute and fluffy until they bite you then u would be hurt . a bird has a beak you should no that already . well thanks you guys learned alot from me

posted on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 2:54pm
jacob lewis's picture
jacob lewis says:

the snowy owl and talons are so awsome

posted on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 3:18pm
Ani's picture
Ani says:

I saw one in St. Peter pnce in a forest. I will never forget it; beautiful!

posted on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 4:09pm
J'frillian Schroeberns's picture
J'frillian Schroeberns says:

He doesn't look like he's doing so good .
Where's his food?

posted on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 4:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Snowy birds like the snow

posted on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 5:14pm
Emery's picture
Emery says:

what a beautiful creature that reflects God's loving kindness to us

posted on Sat, 02/15/2014 - 6:07pm
Talia's picture
Talia says:

once, i saw a sonw owl, it was hrad to see because it blended in so well!

posted on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 3:27pm
gabby's picture
gabby says:

pretty owl

posted on Sat, 02/22/2014 - 2:01pm
Madison's picture
Madison says:

Snow owls are awesome and great at hunting!

posted on Sat, 02/22/2014 - 4:43pm
Mak's picture
Mak says:

i like the owl is cool but the nose is crepy and the spots are cool

posted on Sun, 02/23/2014 - 12:57pm
Luke's picture
Luke says:

i am not a huge fan of owls but they are good hunters

posted on Fri, 02/28/2014 - 12:52pm
DOMINIK's picture

why are snow owls so rare dudes

posted on Fri, 02/28/2014 - 1:37pm
aniyah 's picture
aniyah says:

where are these owls. and where do they come from.

posted on Sat, 03/01/2014 - 1:39pm
Ilene's picture
Ilene says:

this snowy owl looks super cool and I wish it was alive. and the talons look really sharp

posted on Sat, 03/01/2014 - 5:35pm

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