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Boreal Owl Aegolius funereus


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Boreal Owl, adult on bare branch
credit: Mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Strigidae, Owls view all from this family

Description ADULT Has rich brown plumage overall. Upperparts are marked with bold white spots, smallest and densest on head; underparts are whitish, but heavily streaked with rufous brown. Facial disc is whitish with dark border; yellow eyes are framed by white "eyebrows." JUVENILE Mainly brown with white "eyebrows".

Dimensions Length: 9-12" (23-30 cm); Wngspn: 24" (61 cm)

Habitat Widespread, but present at low densities in thick boreal and mountain forests with mix of deciduous and coniferous trees. Mainly sedentary, but irruptive southward if prey numbers crash.

Observation Tips Hard to find because of unobtrusive habits and inclination to sit tight while roosting. Presence easiest to detect by call. Alternatively, befriend a birder who has installed nest boxes for the species.

Range Eastern Canada, Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, Plains, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, New England, Western Canada

Voice Male's territorial call comprises a series of piping hoots that rise and fall in pitch during delivery.

Discussion Plump-bodied owl with short tail and proportionately large head with oblong facial disc. Strictly nocturnal and roosts in dense cover. Sexes are similar.