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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Boreal Owl


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small owl of boreal and montane forests, the Boreal Owl is found throughout Alaska and Canada, and across northern Eurasia, as well. It is found in the lower 48 states only in the mountains of the West, in extreme northern Minnesota, and as an occasional winter visitor to the northern states.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Small owl.
  • No ear tufts.
  • White face outlined in black.
  • Fine spots on top of head.
  • Underparts dirty white, streaked with brown.
  • Bill yellow.

Immature Description

Upperparts completely dark brown, underparts paler brown. White X on face, made up of eyebrows and white marks below bill.

Range Map Help

Boreal Owl Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

Northern Saw-whet Owl smaller, with black bill, white streaking on light brown crown, and lacks black outline to face. Juvenile saw-whet with paler and brighter buffy underparts.

    Backyard Tips

    Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.