The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large owl of the typical owl family Strigidae. The Snowy Owl was first classified in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who developed binomial nomenclature to classify and organize plants and animals. The bird is also known in North America as the Arctic Owl or the Great White Owl. Until recently, it was regarded as the sole member of a distinct genus, as Nyctea scandiaca, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data (Olsen et al. 2002) shows that it is very closely related to the horned owls in the genus Bubo. The Snowy Owl is the official bird of Quebec.
This yellow-eyed, black billed white bird is easily recognizable. It is 53-65 cm (20-26 inches) long with a 125-150 cm (50-60 in) wingspan. Also, these birds can weigh anywhere from 1.8-3 kg (3.5-6.6 lbs). The adult male is virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark scalloping; the young are heavily barred, and dark spotting may even be predominate. Its thick plumage, heavily-feathered feet, and coloration render the Snowy Owl well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle.
Snowy Owl calls are varied, but the alarm call is a barking, almost quacking krek-krek; the female also has a softer mewling pyee-pyee or prek-prek. The song is a deep repeated gawh. They may also clap their beak in response to threats or annoyances. While called clapping, it is believed this sound may actually be a clicking of the tongue, not the beak.