Guest Author - Lisa Shea
The Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca) had a small but loyal following until Harry Potter burst onto the scene. Now this quiet bird is sought after by thousands!
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Harry got his white snowy owl, Hedwig, on a shopping spree before his first year at Hogwarth's. He kept it in a small cage, letting it out occasionally to soar around the school grounds or to deliver messages.
The real snowy owl wouldn't be very happy cooped up in a tiny cage in a warm house, however. It is used to living in open areas and soaring long distances. It loves the tundra and cold of the north, and is heavily feathered to keep warm. It is the heaviest owl found in the US and sometimes catches other birds in addition to mice and rodents.
Found throughout Canada and Alaska, the Snowy Owl is also found down as far as Texas and Louisiana at times. Fledglings are light grey in color, and slowly take on more and more white until they are an adult. They are up to 23" long, have a 52" wingspan and can weigh up to 4 pounds. Adults often choose new nesting sites and partners from year to year. The couple will lay around 6 eggs which hatch about a month later. Both parents care for and defend their nest.
When fighting for territory they issue a long scream noise, but when more restful they call out soft "broooo" calls.
Snowy owls live around 10 years in the wild, and up to 35 years in captivity.
The Bird Encyclopedia