Northern Hawk Owl

ID Info
Silhouette OwlsOwls

Northern Hawk Owl

Surnia ulula
  • ORDER: Strigiformes
  • FAMILY: Strigidae
Basic Description

A bird of boreal forests, the Northern Hawk Owl behaves like a raptor, but looks like an owl. Its oval body, yellow eyes, and round face enclosed by dark parentheses are distinctly owl. Its long tail and habit of perching atop solitary trees and hunting by daylight, though, are reminiscent of a raptor. It is a solitary bird that tends to stick to the boreal forest, but some winters it moves south into the northern United States delighting birders near and far.

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

Find This Bird

For nonmigratory birds like the Northern Hawk Owl that breed in the boreal forest, spotting one usually requires a trip to the frigid north. Hawk owls though do turn up from time to time in southern Canada and the northern United States. They don't seem to fear humans much and perch atop solitary trees in the middle of the day, so when they are around they can be easy to spot. At night they roost in tree branches, often close to the trunk and tucked in amongst the branches, where they can be more difficult to locate.

Other Names
  • Lechuza Gavilana (Spanish)
  • Épervière boréale (French)
  • Cool Facts