Are snowy owls (Quebec’s provincial bird!) white year-round, or do their coats change in the summer?
—Georgina St. Paul, Magog, Que.
This handy coat-changing cammo trick, used by, for example, Arctic foxes and snowshoe hares, isn’t shared by snowy owls. But their year-round light plumage—plus their bulky bodies, layers of down, and low metabolism—does make them well adapted to living north of the Arctic Circle. (Cottagers can spot snowies in southern and central Ontario in the winter, though.) Males have a lighter coat and can sometimes look pure white; females and young birds are typically barred or flecked.
More neat factoids about snowy owls: They’re the heaviest North American owls, and they can scarf prey, such as voles, whole and head-first. Later (as with other owls), they regurgitate the bones and fur in a slimy pellet. Efficient! Yet so disgusting.