The Canadian Peregrine Foundation

Northern Hawk Owl
(Surnia ulula)


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IDENTIFICATION


(Photos by Marcel Gahbauer)

Size: 36-44 cm (similar to small Crow).   Description: Brown back and wings, long tail, finely barred underparts, black rim around the face, no ear tufts.   Range: Year-round resident in all provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia; some migrate south in winter.   Habitat: Boreal forests and clearings in summer; open areas in winter.   Nest: In hollows of trees, or on abandoned nests of crows or hawks.   Voice: Sharp chattering or a low hooting trill.   Diet: Mostly rodents in summer, and primarily birds in winter.   Behaviour: Mostly diurnal, only rarely active at night.   Notes: Often perches on the very top of spruce trees. Hunts by swooping down at prey, then returning to a high perch. Unique among owls in relying more on vision than hearing for hunting. Family group remains together through fall and winter.

 

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