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The Snowy Owl , Bubo scandiacus

The Snowy Owl is a bird of Arctic tundra or open grasslands and fields and a rare visitor to the British Isles.  Between 1967 and 1975, snowy owls bred on the remote island of Fetlar in the Shetland Isles north of Scotland. Females summered as recently as 1993, but their status in the British Isles is now that of a rare winter visitor to Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and the Cairngorms. The Snowy Owl is 52–71 cm long, with a 125–164cm wingspan and these owls can weigh anywhere from 1134-2000g. Females are larger and heavier than males.

While their scientific name is Bubo scandiacus, snowy owls also have a few different nicknames: arctic owl, ghost owl, Scandinavian night bird and the great white owl.

They mate for life unless one of the pair gets killed, when a new pair bond may be formed. Breeding takes place at varying times of year according to locality, with a clutch, averaging about 4 eggs, being laid in a nest in a hollow tree, old building or fissure in a cliff. Clutch sizes can be quite variable, with more eggs laid in years when prey is abundant. The eggs are off white ,  becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by female only for around 31-33 days with the male bird brings food to incubating female. Eggs hatch at intervals, so that female will be caring for first young while still incubating last eggs. Young may leave nest after 2-3 weeks, but are not able to fly well until about 7 weeks and they are fed by parents up to at least the first 9-10 weeks.

Snowy owl are diurnal and hunt during the day and night, This powerful bird relies primarily on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season. They are opportunistic hunters and prey species may vary considerably, especially in winter. They feed on a wide variety of small mammals but will take advantage of larger prey like hares, rats, rabbits. Each bird must capture roughly 7 to 12 mice per day to meet its food requirement and can eat more than 1,600 lemmings per year.


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