Which Snowy Owls Thrive in Saskatchewan’s Winters?

Snowy Owls capture the imagination, but ornithologists know surprisingly little about how these birds of the far north fare during the harsh winters they endure. The researchers behind a new study inThe Auk: Ornithological Advances¬†trapped and tracked Snowy Owls wintering in Canada and found that while age and sex affect the birds’ condition, most do fairly well, showing few signs of starvation and some even putting on weight over the winter months.

Female Snowy Owls are bigger than males, and Alexander Chang and Karen Wiebe of the University of Saskatchewan expected that their dominant behavior would give females access to greater food resources during the challenging winter season. Their results bore this out — females tended to be in better condition than males, and adults, with their greater hunting experience, tended to be in better condition than juveniles.

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