Snowy owl hunting for prey in winter snow

Snowy owl

The near perfect camouflage of the snowy owl's striking white plumage against the Arctic's snowy tundra reveals only a glimpse of golden-yellow eyes. These large, powerful owls are so fond of their meal of choice - lemmings - they follow the population around, and may even miss a breeding season when the supply is scarce. Known too as the white terror of the north, the snowy owl uses versatile hunting techniques to hunt by day and pick off prey from land, sea and air. Very occasionally snowy owls might venture as far as the Shetland Isles, one of the coldest places in the UK.

Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Arctic owl,
  • Great white owl,
  • Snow owl

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Distribution

The Snowy owl can be found in a number of locations including: Arctic, Asia, China, Europe, North America, Russia. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Snowy owl distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

BBC News about Snowy owl

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

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