Snowy owls are found in North America in a habitat that ranges from Alaska’s western Aleutians to northeastern Quebec and northern Labrador in Canada. They are regularly found in the northern United States during the winter.
They move further south during the winter months and have occasionally been spotted as far south as central California, Florida and Texas. They are usually spotted along the coastline and the lake shores as they migrate.
Snowy owls prefer tundra areas but may also inhabit grasslands. They make their homes on the tundra during the breeding season. The female builds a nest on small rises in which she carves a shallow depression where she lays her eggs. Snowy owls are well-suited for tundra life, as the females and young are speckled with darker feathers that keep them well camouflaged against the terrain.
On occasion, snowy owls move further south than their normal range. In 1966 and 67, they moved into the Pacific Northwest. These types of movements have been linked to declining cycles in the lemming population. The snowy owl’s main diet during the breeding season consists of voles and lemmings. In areas in which prey is scarce, they may feed on the chicks of other birds or rabbits.