Thirty thousand years before Harry Potter immortalized the Snowy Owl in popular culture, our European ancestors were drawing them on cave walls. Snowy owls breed on the treeless northern tundra of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia, using scrapes on snow free boulders, hummocks or rises as nests. Males select and defend their territory, while females choose the nesting site.
In a typical year, when adult snowies consume an average of 1,600 lemmings each, half of their clutch of four to eight eggs will survive to adulthood. In a banner year, when the constantly fluctuating lemming populations explode, the female may lay a larger clutch, up to 12 eggs, and all the chicks may survive, and many head south in what are called “Irruptions,” in search of territory or prey, which is why we may see some in the Adirondacks in Winter.