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explore Raptors

Northern Hawk Owl

Scientific Name:

Surnia ulula

Population Status:

Least Concern

Body Length:

14-15 inches


2-1/2 to 3 feet


9-12 ounces

What makes a raptor a raptor?

Did you know?

  • Northern Hawk Owls have features and behaviors similar to hawks and falcons. They have long tails and pointed wings and their flight is like accipiter hawks. In addition, they tend to bob their tails when perched and are adept at hovering like kestrels.
  • Unlike most owls, these owls hunt mainly during the day, using their exceptional vision and hearing to detect prey. Their feathers are stiffer than nocturnal owls so they do not have completely silent flight.

Where they live

Northern Hawk Owls are distributed across Alaska, Canada, and Eurasia. In winter, they may travel to southern Canada and the northern United States in search of food.

Why they need our help

The population appears to be stable.

What they eat

They feed mostly on voles and other small mammals and birds, hunting from an exposed perch. They swoop down on prey or hover above it before dropping down to catch it. They also fly low over the ground in search of food.

Nest, eggs and young

They nest in hollows in stumps and trees, as well as the abandoned nests of hawks and crows. The female lays 3-10 or more eggs, depending on the size of the prey population. The eggs are incubated for 25-28 days. The young fledge when they are 3-1/2 to 5 weeks old and are independent at 11 weeks.

Photo gallery

Photos needed! If you are a photographer and would be willing to donate photos of for use on this site, please contact grin@peregrinefund.org