The Arctic is home to a variety of fascinating creatures, but perhaps none are as iconic as the snowy owl.
These majestic birds of prey are renowned for their striking white feathers and piercing yellow eyes, and they play an important role in the Arctic’s delicate ecosystem.
Snowy owls are unique among birds of prey in many ways. For one, they are diurnal hunters, meaning they are active during the day rather than at night like most other owls.
They are also incredibly efficient hunters, capable of catching a wide range of prey including lemmings, voles, and even larger mammals like hares and rabbits.
In the summer months, snowy owls mate and nest in the Arctic tundra. Female owls, like Didi in our example, lay an average of 7-10 eggs in a season.
However, due to the scarcity of prey in the Arctic, not all eggs hatch, and not all hatchlings survive. In Didi’s case, she laid 9 eggs in the spring and now has 8 owlets of varying ages.
Snowy owls have unique parenting behaviors that help ensure the survival of their offspring. The younger owlets are small, helpless, and blind, and require the female to keep them warm by brooding them with her body.
The older owlets, however, are already quite independent and can help keep their younger siblings warm through a behavior called huddling.
Incubation in snowy owls begins with the laying of the first egg. As a result, there can be a significant difference in age and size among the offspring. In Didi’s case, the oldest owlet hatched 18 days before the youngest and has already eaten several dozen lemmings.
Parents are incredibly busy during the summer months catching prey and feeding their offspring. Snowy owls can consume up to 1,600 lemmings in a single year, which highlights the crucial role they play in regulating the Arctic’s delicate food web.
Overall, snowy owls are a fascinating and important species in the Arctic. They are not only beautiful to look at but also play a crucial role in maintaining the region’s delicate ecosystem.