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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Northern Hawk Owl

Surnia ulula ORDER: STRIGIFORMES FAMILY: STRIGIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A bird of boreal forests, the Northern Hawk Owl is distinctive among owls for its morphology and behavior. In winters of food scarcity, it irrupts southward into southern Canada and the northern United States.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
14.2–17.7 in
36–45 cm
Wingspan
28 in
71 cm
Weight
8.5–16 oz
240–454 g
Other Names
  • Hawk Owl; Northern Hawk-Owl
  • Chouette épervière (French)
  • Lechuza gavilana (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Northern Hawk Owl can detect prey by sight at a distance of up to 800 meters (half a mile).
  • Though it is thought to detect prey primarily by sight, the Northern Hawk Owl can find and seize prey under 30 cm (1 foot) of snow.

Habitat


Forest

Coniferous or mixed forests near open areas.

Food


Mammals

Mostly small mammals, especially voles. Also some birds, especially in winter.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–13 eggs
Egg Description
White.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and covered in white down.
Nest Description

Nests in cavities, including old woodpecker nests, and hollow tops of broken tree trunks. No structure built.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Behavior


Aerial Dive

Hunts by day or night. Perches on prominent treetops, detecting prey by sight. Also has keen hearing, and can take prey completely concealed by snow.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

No immediate known conservation concern.

Credits

  • Duncan, J. R., and P. A. Duncan. 1998. Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula). In The Birds of North America, No. 356 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Northern Hawk Owl Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings