What They Eat

Lemmings—as many as five a day—are this owl’s food of choice, but other small animals like mice, voles, rabbits, and occasionally birds are also eaten.

Where They Live

The snowy owl is only a winter resident in Minnesota. In some years, when the Canadian climate is unusually harsh or food is in short supply, large numbers of owls “invade” Minnesota and can even be seen in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

What They Do

Unlike some owls, snowy owls are active during the day and use their excellent hearing to locate hidden prey, including rodents burrowing beneath the snow.

How They’re Doing

While the population has not been thoroughly studied, the snowy owl’s Arctic breeding grounds have been relatively safe from human disturbance, although this is slowly changing with oil exploration.

Where in the World

Northern Polar Regions including North America


Tundra and other open areas

Conservation Status


Animal Facts

Body length: 20-24 inches
Weight: About 3.5 pounds
Wingspan: 63 inches
Lifespan: 35 years in human care

Taxonomic Category


Where at the Zoo

Wings Financial World of Birds Show

“Oz” hatched at the African Lion Safari in Ontario, Canada, on July 6, 2008.  He arrived at the Minnesota Zoo in January of 2009.   Snowy owls are rare in zoos, and exceedingly rare in bird shows.  Because snowy owls are sensitive to heat and humidity, trainers knew he would work best as a winter show bird.  Oz made his indoor show debut in the early spring of 2010 in the old indoor theater located where the present day penguin exhibit exists.  The following winter, a special vestibule was constructed to house him at the theater so he wouldn’t have to be transported twice daily for the shows.  He was an integral part of the 2010 indoor show season.

With the construction of the Target Learning Center— the new home for the winter World of Birds Show—Oz had a new home and show space to acquaint himself with.  The first winter in the new space, 2011-2012, Oz remained a highlight of the show for trainers and guests alike.  His debut in the fall of 2012 was postponed due to molting, but he can now be seen in nearly every show of the winter season.  When the snow melts and summer returns, Oz will get a seasonal hiatus.  He demonstrates low, gliding flights that are typical for ground dwelling species.

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