Living Bird Magazine
Boreal OwlAegolius funereus
- ORDER: Strigiformes
- FAMILY: Strigidae
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.More ID Info
- Mochuelo Boreal (Spanish)
- Nyctale de Tengmalm (French)
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.
- Cool Facts
- The female Boreal Owl is much larger than the male. The species shows the most extreme reversed sexual dimorphism of any American owl.
- The Boreal Owl finds its prey by sound. It can locate mice even through vegetation and under snow.
- The ear openings on a Boreal Owl's skull are asymmetrical, with one opening high up on the skull and the other much lower. The different positions of the holes help the owl find exactly where a sound comes from, helping gauge height as well as distance.
- Boreal Owls usually are considered monogamous, with one male mating with one female. Several studies in Europe found that one male may mate with up to three females, and a female occasionally mates with two different males. They found that such multiple mating occurs most frequently when mice numbers are at their highest. (Finding easy prey to feed the young means that less help is needed in raising young owls.) When mice numbers were low, all the owls were monogamous.
- The oldest recorded Boreal Owl was a male, and at least 8 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Idaho.