Snowy Owl - Bubo scandiacus


Both genders display sexual dimorphism: in adulthood, the female is white with dense black bars and the male is white with just a few black marks remaining. The very young birds are dark grey. The Snowy Owl leaves the Arctic in the winter and heads towards the southern United States. Its migration takes it to the Great Lakes, to Europe and up to southern Sandinavia. When food is scarce, they will come even further down south – one bird was seen in 1993 in the English Channel. Breeding is directly linked to the lemming population and some pairs will not breed if these rodents are in short supply. The Snowy Owl is very familiar to our contemporaries, even though it does not live in mainland France. It is the symbol of Quebec and also features in literature. Readers of J.K Rowling will have recognised Hedwig, Harry Potter’s trusted ally.

First chick hatched at Le Rocher des Aigles : 19 July, 2000


CLASS : Aves
ORDER : Strigiformes
FAMILY : Strigidae
WINGSPAN : 1.6 m
WEIGHT : Male 0.7-2.5 Kg / Female 0.8-3 kg
CLUTCH SIZE : 5 eggs
INCUBATION : 31-33 days
LIFE EXPECTANCY : 10 years in the wild, 30 in captivity
DIET : a wide variety of mammals, such as rodents (lemmings, mice, rats), hares, birds and fish
NATURAL HABITAT : steppes, tundras, open forests.
RANGE : Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia

Conservation status

Conservation status info

Rocher des Aigles

VU: Vulnerable

The population is in decline. The species remains threatened by road collisions, electrocution and entanglement in fishing gear (Canada). Furthermore, climate change has had a significant impact on the arrival of spring and the melting of the snow in breeding areas which may change the availability of the species’ prey.

The latest assessment in 2020 classifies this species globally as VU (vulnerable). The latest 2015 assessment in Europe classifies this species as LC.