Snowy Owl Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

With wide feathers, keen eyesight, and sharp claws, the snowy owl swoops in to catch its favorite meal. In this lesson on the snowy owl, find out many more interesting facts about this large bird that likes to live in very cold places.

What the Snowy Owl Looks Like

In the Harry Potter movies there is a large white bird named Hedwig who is Harry's loyal friend. This majestic creature is an example of a snowy owl.

The snowy owl is one of the largest of all owls. Its wings spread out to 4 ½ - 5 ½ feet wide, as wide as most adults can spread their arms out. The snowy owl stands over two feet tall, or up to about a man's knees.

When you see a snowy owl, the first thing you might notice is its snowy white feathers. The whitest of these owls is always a male. Males get more white as they grow older. Both males and females have brown bars and spots, but females have more.

The snowy owl is a large white bird with yellow eyes, a pointed beak, and sharp talons.
snowy owl

Amid those white feathers are two very bright yellow eyes. The snowy owl has great eyesight and excellent hearing for hunting. It also has a short, dark beak that is pointed and sharp for tearing meat.

Where the Snowy Owl Lives

Why do you think this bird is called the snowy owl? Well, maybe for two reasons. Its feathers are as white as snow; plus it lives in snowy arctic habitats. Brrrr, that's cold! But not so much for the snowy owl because of the thick feathers that cover its whole body, even its feet and toes.

Some places you might see snowy owls are Alaska, Canada, Russia, some northern states of America, Iceland, and Siberia. In the winter, snowy owls might migrate, or move, over long distances farther south, and then migrate north again to breed in the spring and summer.

The adult male snowy owl (top) is always whiter than the female.
male female

What It Eats and What Eats It

Being around all this snow, it's also a good thing the snowy owl's feathers are white, which hides it from predators like foxes, wolves, dogs, large birds, and even people. These white feathers also help it to be a good hunter in the snow.

Snowy owls like to hunt while on the ground. They sit quietly, perched on a higher part of ground, or maybe a fencepost or rock, and wait patiently for prey to come by. Then they swoop in and catch it with strong toes and sharp talons, or claws. It's pretty hard to sneak away from a snowy owl because it can turn its head almost all the way around to see what's behind it!

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