Plumage snow-white, more or less marked with transverse brown bars.
Strix nyctea, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. I. p. 82. Snowy Owl, Mont. Orn. Diet. Supp. App. Selb. Must. vol. I. p. 95. pl. 23. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. i. p. 54.
Entire length (female) two feet one inch: breadth, wings extended, five feet. Male of inferior size. Selby.
Head small: plumage above and below snow-white, more or less variegated with brown spots and transverse bars, which are largest and most conspicuous in immature birds; in very old individuals (males more especially) these spots wholly disappear, leaving the entire plumage pure white: bill black, almost concealed by the bristly feathers at its base: irides bright orange-yellow: tail rounded, rather short, extending nearly two inches beyond the folded wings: legs and toes very thickly clothed with hair-like feathers partly concealing the claws. (Egg). Pure white.
Found in the Orkney and Shetland Isles, where it remains the whole year. Very rare in England. Has been killed in Northumberland, and even as far south as in Norfolk. In the latter county it has occurred twice. Habits said to be diurnal. Food hares, rats, mice, grouse, and other birds. Builds in rocky situations, and lays two eggs.
(2. Noctua, Selby).