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Snowy Owls Don't Wait for Night

Snowy Owls are found only in the Arctic - living and breeding on the tundra. They stay there all winter, but their feathers keep them warm. Their entire bodies - even legs and toes - are covered with soft, fluffy feathers, and their feet have extra thick pads.

When temperatures are very cold, the owls crouch on the ground behind any object that can block the wind. They stay still because flying would use up precious heat energy.

Snowy Owls are different from other owls in that they will hunt during the day (if they didn't, they might get very hungry waiting for darkness in the "land of the midnight sun"), and that their plumage changes in color with the season. Their feathers are brownish with dark spots and stripes in summer - changing to white in winter.

Their nests, made of dried tundra plants, are on the ground (due to the lack of trees) and very hard to see. Even their eggs look like the surface of the tundra.

When the owlets pop out of the eggs, they're covered with fluffy white down. They grow quickly and can leave the nest within eight weeks. This is important because the summers are so short that if the young owls weren't ready to take care of themselves, they'd never survive the cold winter.

Lemmings are a favorite meal, but the owls will also kill weasels, foxes, and even other birds. Diving out of the sky with long legs and talons outstretched, a Snowy Owl is not only an efficient predator, but it is also capable of driving away humans, dogs, and even caribou that wander too close to its nest.

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