Boreal Owl

Silhouette OwlsOwls

Boreal Owl

Aegolius funereus
  • ORDER: Strigiformes
  • FAMILY: Strigidae
Basic Description

In the dark of the night, the small Boreal Owl comes alive in the spruce and fir forests of northern North America and Europe. This bright-eyed, square faced owl sits and waits on a perch for small mammals and birds before gliding down talons first to grab it. From late winter through spring, its quick, hollow hooting sounds across the dark forest as the male calls for a mate. They spend the year in boreal forests, occasionally making their way farther south in years of prey scarcity.

More ID Info
image of range map for Boreal OwlRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Boreal Owls are fairly silent, except from mid-February to April; a good time to go looking and listening for one. Their highly nocturnal habits mean that you'll need to head out at night to get a glimpse or hear their low hooting calls. During daytime they roost quietly in a new site each day, so they’re a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Look for them in aspen, birch, or conifer trees around 15–20 feet above the ground, close to the tree trunk.

Other Names
  • Mochuelo Boreal (Spanish)
  • Nyctale de Tengmalm (French)

Backyard Tips

If you live within the breeding range of a Boreal Owl, consider putting up a nest box. Boreal Owls readily accept nest boxes, just make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Head on over to NestWatch where you'll find plans to build a nest box sized just right for a Boreal Owl.

  • Cool Facts