11 Snowy Owl Facts That May Surprise You

This arctic bird is a pretty cool creature ❄️🦉

The snowy owl is pretty amazing.

With his strong wings and excellent eyesight and hearing, the snowy owl is most commonly found in the northern regions of Canada and the arctic tundras of Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia. But there’s so much more to learn about this incredible species.

We’ve rounded up some snowy owl facts for kids that just might surprise you. Read on to learn more!

11 snowy owl facts for kids

  • The snowy owl can live in very cold temperatures. We’re talking down to negative 68.8 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 56 degrees Celsius). As a result, the species holds the world record among all birds when it comes to withstanding chilly weather.
  • Ever wonder how snowy owls talk to each other? Although generally pretty quiet, they will occasionally hoot, screech and whistle.
  • The snowy owl’s feathers (males are mostly white, while females have some black and brown mixed in) keep him warm — and weighed down. His feathers add about 4 pounds to his weight, which is typically already around 4 and a half pounds.
snowy owl facts for kids
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  • Speaking of feathers, snowy owls keep their feet and legs warm thanks to their thick feathers, which provide insulation against the arctic temperatures. They also have thick pads on the bottom of their feet that protect them and act like snowshoes. Very handy!
  • 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.
  • Snowy owls can be territorial and have been known to be aggressive when defending their territory or against other species they perceive as a threat — and that includes humans!
  • Hedwig, Harry Potter’s pet snowy owl, introduced millions of young readers to this remarkable species, and was one of the most beloved characters from the book series.
snowy owl facts for kids
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  • An “irruption” occurs when snowy owls migrate south in search of food. This may be why snowy owls have occasionally been spotted in unusual locations like New York City, Wisconsin and even Southern California!
  • When fully expanded, the snowy owl’s wingspan is 4 to 5 feet on average! (That’s double their size — snowy owls are typically about 2 feet long.)
  • Snowy owls are diurnal, which means they are active during the day.
  • Snowy owls prefer wide open spaces and will nest on the ground, as opposed to in trees like other owls.
snowy owl facts for kids
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While it’s hard to say how many snowy owls there are globally, IUCN reports that the number is between 14,000 and 28,000. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get to see one of these winter white birds one day!