Last Updated on April 24, 2024 by themubbi63

The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) has a lot of common names, including the polar owl, the white owl and the Arctic owl. Found in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia, they’re large owls that are active during the day (unlike most owls).

They’re distinctive because of the pure white color of their feathers, although females often have dark brown flecks and bars while males are purer white. They’re highly migratory and very rarely breed in the same locations more than once, always moving from place to place. 

Snowy Owl Height

Snowy Owl Height
Snowy Owl Size Compared: Silent Hunters, Big Wings 2024

As one of the largest owls in the world and the biggest avian predators in the higher latitudes, the snowy-owl is the fifth longest owl in the world. (it’s beaten out by three or four species in Asia although it easily outstrips most species in North America and Europe.)

As with most birds of prey, the females are larger and heavier than the males. Males usually measure between 52.5 and 64 cm (20.7 – 25.2 inches) in length with the average being around 58.7 cm (23.1 inches). For females, the range is between 54 and 71 cm (21 to 28 inches). The average adult female stands at a height of 63.7 cm (25.1 inches).

Animal HeightInchesCentimeters
Snowy-Owl20.5 – 27.952 – 71

Snowy Owl Weight

Just like with height, there is considerable reverse sexual dimorphism in snowy owls. This means that females are invariably larger and heavier than the males and not by a small degree. 

The average body weight of a male snowy-owl is between 1465 and 1808 g  while the average body weight of a female snowy owl ranges from 1706 to 2426 g. This is just the average and exceptions exist on either end. 

While weights as little as 710 g for male snowy owls and 780 to 1185 g for females have been previously recorded, these are owls that are in a state of starvation. It’s not a healthy body weight for snowy-owls.

Animal WeightOuncesGrams
Snowy Owl46.9 – 1041330 – 2950

Snowy Owl Wingspan

The snowy owl has a truly impressive wingspan which is quite necessary when you think about the amount of body weight the wings are required to lift. Measuring anywhere between 116 and 183 cm (46 – 72 inches) according to the size of the individual, males have slightly smaller wingspans than females do.

Data also indicates that the wingspans of snowy owls found in Russia are slightly larger than the wingspans of snowy owls found in North America. However, the difference in size isn’t a huge amount.

Interesting Article: The Surprising Cassowary Size: Taller Than You Think! 2024

Snowy Owl Clutch Size

While snowy owls are mostly monogamous in nature, instances of bigamy aren’t unheard of. Both males and females might occasionally have more than one partner. However, that’s rare. Snowy-owls can breed once a year but they don’t do it if food is scarce and there’s a chance they won’t be able to nourish their young.

The clutches can vary in size from 3 eggs per clutch to 11 eggs. The average clutch size remains around 7 – 9 eggs but there have been extreme cases of a female snowy owl laying 15 or 16 eggs. The eggs are pure white in color and measure 5.7 cm (2.2 inches) in length and 4.5 cm (1.8 inches) in breadth. 

Snowy Owl Hatchling Size

Snowy owl hatchlings are born wet and blind and covered with a soft downy fur. They can weigh anywhere between 35 and 55 g (1.2 – 1.9 oz). The average is 46 g (1.6 oz). The female snowy-owl waits until the chicks are three weeks old to start hunting, the male taking care of feedings till then. 

The hatchlings start leaving the nest at around two weeks, before they can even fly. The chicks are believed to be independent at three months of age.

Snowy Owl Size Comparison to Humans

Snowy Owl Size Comparison to Humans
Snowy Owl Size Compared: Silent Hunters, Big Wings 2024

While it may seem strange to compare the size of a bird with a human, it’s often easier to understand sizes on the basis of such comparisons. A vague number doesn’t always make sense to most of us. 

But when we say that the height of a snowy owl is 52 – 71 cm while the height of the average man is 170 cm, we can immediately get an idea of how tall that owl stands. The tallest snowy-owls stand over 2 feet which would put them above knee high for an average sized person.

As for the wingspan, the total wingspan of the largest snowy-owls is comparable to the height of moderately tall humans at 183 cm.

Snowy Owl Vs Barn Owl Size Comparison

Snowy Owl Vs Barn Owl Size Comparison
Snowy Owl Size Compared: Silent Hunters, Big Wings 2024

Barn owls, despite being much smaller than the snowy owl, often serve as a point of comparison because of how common they are. Most of us are much more familiar with the barn owl than the snowy-owl so we can get a rough idea in our heads of their size.

The barn owl, at 32 – 40 cm of length, is much smaller than the snowy owl which usually stands at a height of 52 – 71 cm. It also weighs considerably less, with the largest barn owls being no more than 700 g. On the other hand, an average snowy owl would weigh well over 2000 g. The wingspan of the snowy-owl, at 116 – 183 cm, is much larger than the wingspan of the barn owl (80 – 125 cm).

AnimalHeightWeightWingspan
Snowy-Owl52 – 71 cm (20.5 – 27.9 inches)1330 – 2950 g (46.9 – 104 oz)116 – 183 cm (46 – 72 inches)
Barn Owl32 – 40 cm (12.6 – 15.8 inches)260 – 700 g (9.2 – 24.7 oz)80 – 125 cm (31 – 49 inches)

Snowy Owl Vs Gyrfalcon Size Comparison

Snowy Owl Vs Gyrfalcon Size Comparison
Snowy Owl Size Compared: Silent Hunters, Big Wings 2024

Another regal white bird found in North America, gyrfalcons, despite not being owls, are quite similar to the snowy owl in their coloring and habitat. Their size, too, is more comparable to the snow owl than the size of the barn owl. 

The gyrfalcon, which also lives on the arctic tundra, stands at about 48 – 64 cm height as compared to the snowy owl at 52 – 71 cm. Weighing far less at 800 – 2100 g to the 1330 – 2950 g that is common for the snowy owl, the gyrfalcon is undoubtedly smaller. It’s no wonder that the snowy-owl is officially the largest avian predator of the arctic. 

The wingspan of a gyrfalcon is much smaller, more comparable to the barn owl at 123 cm. The wingspan of the snowy owl, on the other hand, is an immense 183 cm at its largest.

AnimalHeightWeightWingspan
Snowy-Owl52 – 71 cm (20.5 – 27.9 inches)1330 – 2950 g (46.9 – 104 oz)116 – 183 cm (46 – 72 inches)
Gyrfalcon48 – 64 cm (18.9 – 25.2 inches)800 – 2100 g (28.2 – 74.1 oz)123 cm (48.4 inches)

Conclusion

The snowy owl’s size is a marvel of adaptation. Its impressive wingspan allows for silent flight and efficient hunting in harsh Arctic conditions. From the slightly smaller males to the larger females, these magnificent birds dominate the frozen tundra. Let’s protect these snowy giants and their crucial role in the Arctic ecosystem.

FAQs

How does the snowy owl’s size compare to other birds?

Snowy owls are the largest avian predators in the Arctic. They are significantly bigger than barn owls but comparable in height to gyrfalcons, with a much larger wingspan.

How do snowy-owls compare to other owl species in terms of size?

Snowy owls rank among the largest owl species, with females typically outweighing males. Their height ranges from 52 to 71 cm (20.5 – 27.9 inches), making them notably larger than many other owl species.

How do snowy owls compare to humans in size?

Snowy owls stand between 52 and 71 cm tall, with the tallest individuals surpassing 2 feet. In comparison to the average human height of 170 cm, snowy-owls can reach heights above knee level, offering a striking visual contrast.

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