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Discovery Park Snowy Owl

Address: 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199 > directions
Visitors Center Contact Information: (206) 386 - 4236 | E-mail:
Snowy Owl
Photo by Kevin Li

Snowy Owl
Photo by Catherine Conolly

Snowy Owl
Photo by Mark Whitesell

Snowy Owl
Photo by Kevin Li

A beautiful Snowy Owl has been spotted in the historic district of Discovery Park for the first time. The adult owl is two feet tall and weighs four pounds.

If you come to Discovery Park in search of the snowy owl, please respect the wildlife and people that live in the locations the snowy owl is visiting - it has been frequenting the rooftops of the military housing. Please stay on designated trails and within the park boundaries. The boundary between Discovery Park and Federal Property is clearly marked, but if in doubt use common sense to respect the residents of the park.

About the Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is a large, white owl that has a rounded head, yellow eyes and black bill with heavily feathered feet. A distinctive white owl, its overall plumage is variably barred or speckled with thin, black, horizontal bars or spots. Females and juveniles are more heavily marked than males - adult males may be almost pure white. Snowy owls can be almost two feet high with a wingspan of nearly five feet and weigh up to four pounds.

Snowy Owls are mainly dependent on lemmings and voles for food throughout most of their Arctic and wintering range. When these prey are scarce they will hunt a wide range of small mammals and birds. Some mammal prey include mice, hares, muskrats, marmots, squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, rats, and moles. Birds include ptarmigan, ducks, geese, shorebirds, Ring-necked Pheasants, grouse, American coots, grebes, gulls, songbirds, and Short-eared Owls. Snowy Owls will also eat fish and carrion.

Snowy Owls are a circumpolar population found in Arctic regions of the old and new worlds. In North America, Snowy Owls breed in the western Aleutian Islands, and from northern Alaska, northern Yukon, and Prince Patrick and northern Ellesmere islands south to coastal western Alaska, northern Mackenzie, southern Keewatin, extreme northeastern Manitoba, Southampton and Belcher islands, northern Quebec and northern Labrador.

Snowy Owl populations fluctuate wildly with numbers dependent on good prey numbers. When food is plentiful Snowy Owls will successfully produce many young. During highly successful breeding years the young birds will migrate long distances or come into areas such as Washington State. These visits occur every three to five years, but are highly irregular. They will winter in open fields, or marshes. This is the first year a Snowy Owl has used Discovery Park as a wintering area.

Updated June 28, 2007

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