If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’re probably already familiar with the snowy owl. How much do you actually know about these creatures, though? There’s a ton of interesting facts about them that have passed people by for one reason or another. It’s definitely worth taking the time to learn this stuff because it’s just so fascinating.
Lemmings are their favorite meal
Snowy owls don’t rely on one specific food to survive. However, they do have a preference for what they like to chow down on. Lemmings are apparently their go-to meal, with one of these birds able to devour as much as 1,600 in a year. They have such an intense craving for these animals that their numbers often fluctuate with that of the lemmings. So if the lemming population increases dramatically one year, the number of snowy owls basically does the same.
They’re not nocturnal
People typically think of owls as nocturnal creatures. However, while a lot of species do function this way, the snowy owl isn’t one of them. When they sleep is more dependent on factors like location and prey availability. If their food sources are only around during the day, then that’s when these animals are going to be awake.
Their feathers make them heavy
The weight of a snowy owl might not be something you’ve ever considered before. However, if you were to hold one, you might be surprised at just how much heft this bird has. They typically weigh around four pounds, which makes them the heaviest species in North America. This is mainly because of all their feathers, which are there to keep them warm. These creatures have feathers basically everywhere you look, including on their legs and feet. That’s how they’re able to handle standing in the snow.
They abandon the nest early
Many people wait 18 years to get away from their families. Not snowy owls, though. These creatures stick around for just three weeks before abandoning the nest for good. Their reason for doing so is speculated as sibling rivalry or attempting to avoid predators. Unfortunately, snowy owls still can’t fly at this age, so they have to walk around the Arctic for the next month.
Males and females look different
As with many species, it’s possible to tell male and female snowy owls apart. The former tend to get white with age, often losing the dark markings they have when they’re younger. Although this doesn’t happen to every male, it definitely occurs in the majority. It’s a similar situation with the females, almost all of whom retain their markings over the years. Other characteristics that separate the two include size, with female snowy owls larger than their male counterparts. They can reportedly grow to heights of two feet, with their wingspan amassing an incredible six feet.
Given where they make their nests, a snowy owl isn’t something you’ll likely encounter on an average day. However, if you’re fortunate enough to see one of these majestic creatures, it’s worth remembering these intriguing facts about them.