Back to Stories

Hot on the Trail: Snowy Owl

Posted on January 7, 2016


Snowy Owl
Bubo scandiacus

A snowy owl’s white colour provides camouflage in a wintry landscape. Males can be pure white; however, females always have some brown feathers. Young owls, especially males, get whiter as they get older. Some elderly males do become completely white. “Snowys” stay warm in the most frigid temperatures thanks to a layer of thick down underneath their outer feathers.

Snowy owls are daytime hunters and can see further distances than can humans, but when prey is underneath the snow, the owl must rely on its keen sense of hearing. Circles of feathers around the eyes help to funnel the rustling sounds of voles and other prey under the snow into their ears.

Snowy owls migrate when food becomes scarce. Their movements are difficult to predict, but every four years or so, many snowy owls move to southern Manitoba or Minnesota during the winter. This migration is often attributed to times of low lemming populations further north.

Have you seen any owls at FortWhyte Alive?