from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. The snowy owl.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The snowy owl. Nyctea nivea or N. scandiaca: so called from its habit of preying upon hares.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
For that matter, Google translates harfang des neiges as harfang of snows but that's a whole 'nother story apparently the English word for this bird in fact used to be harfang.
Janet: Thanks for mentioning harfang, an odd-sounding word in both French and English; I of course went straght to the OED, where it turns out it's originally a Swedish word: harfång, from hare 'hare' + fånga 'to catch.'
See, I was reading a species description of snowy owl harfang des neiges on a Quebec bird list web site and Google's little "translate this page" thing translated "Les juvéniles sont uniformément bruns, avec des restes de duvet blanc éparpillés." as "The youthful ones are uniformly brown, with scattered remainders of white sleeping bag."