snowy owl


: a large ground-nesting diurnal arctic owl (Nyctea scandiaca) that enters the chiefly northern parts of the U.S. in winter and has plumage that is sometimes nearly pure white but usually with brownish spots or bars

Illustration of snowy owl

Illustration of snowy owl

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web One by one, a snowshoe hare, snowy owl, arctic fox and others take shelter under his warm tent-like coat. Jan Brett, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2023 Swarms of bird fanciers have been flocking to a west Orange County neighborhood to ogle a snowy owl. Louis Sahagún, Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2022 Other species of note on the Cape were a tricolored heron at High Head in Truro, black vultures in Bourne, Harwich, and Provincetown, a common gallinuleat South Monomoy, and a late snowy owl at Jeremy Pointin Wellfleet., 21 May 2022 Berkshire County: The highlights were a Townsend’s solitaire at Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield, a snowy owl in Pittsfield, a horned grebe and a Barrow’s goldeneye on the Cheshire Reservoir in Cheshire, and two rusty blackbirds in Stockbridge., 5 Mar. 2022 Bird lovers flocked to California to see a rare snowy owl sighting in the golden state. CNN, 6 Jan. 2023 Little Pippen, a snowy owl named Owlfred, an eastern screech owl named Arleen and Tonks, a great horned owl that came to Humane Indiana in 2017 as a baby that fell out of a tree in Munster. Jessi Virtusio,, 14 Oct. 2021 Mills, whose father gave her a journal at age 5 and whose mother was an English teacher, enjoys transforming journal notes into verse on subjects ranging from the birth of her granddaughter to a painting of a snowy owl by Jamie Wyeth. David Sharp, ajc, 13 Feb. 2023 Last week, a snowy owl made a surprise visit to the Southern California city of Cypress, located southeast of Los Angeles in Orange County. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'snowy owl.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1781, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of snowy owl was in 1781

Dictionary Entries Near snowy owl

Cite this Entry

“Snowy owl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition

snowy owl

: a large chiefly arctic owl that nests on the ground and is white or white spotted with brown

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