Snowy Owl

(Bubo scandiaca)

Bird

Snowy owl Winter

Animal Info

The Zoo is home to two snowy owls, a female named Winter and a male named Tundra. Winter was hatched in 2011 and came to Seneca Park Zoo in 2012 from the Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, South Dakota. Deemed non-releasable, she has an amputated right wing tip injury of unknown origin. Tundra was hatched in July 2013 and came from the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA. Unlike Winter, Tundra is able to fly. In 2014, he was confiscated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission from a private citizen. Because he was imprinted on humans, he was deemed unable to be re-released.

Status in the Wild

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Least concern. They are protected, however, under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act and CITES Appendix II. Snowy owls are victims of collisions with vehicles, gunshot wounds, utility line and airplane collisions, electrocutions and entanglement with fishing lines.

Habitat

Snowy owls are found circumpolar, most often in Arctic habitats where they breed including coastal Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. They can also be found in northern Scandinavia, Russia, southern Novaya Zemlya (a large island off the northern coast of Russia) and northern Siberia. During the winter season, some snowy owls migrate south to more temperate habitats. Snowy owls usually inhabit open tundra during summer months. They also inhabit lowland grasslands (saltwater grass meadows and freshwater wet meadows), especially for hunting.

Diet

Lemmings, mice, rabbits, rodents, waterfowl, other birds and fish.

Did you know?

Snowy owls are carnivores; they hunt by sitting on an elevated perch that gives them good visibility; visual scanning of their hunting area is made possible by their ability to rotate their head three quarters of the way around.

Snowy owls are generally monogamous for one breeding season at a time, although cases of polygamy for a few seasons have been seen when prey is extremely abundant.

The niche of a snowy owl in their ecosystem is controlling lemming populations. A snowy owl may consume three to five lemmings a day, or approximately 1,600 lemmings in a year!

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