Male snowy owl
Collected on north slope of Beufort Lagoon, Arctic Ocean, Alaska, 1974 by Dale Chelberg
21.4 inches long
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.
Courtesy SMMHere 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.
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