8 1/2-12" (22-30 cm). Short-tailed, flat-headed, chubby owl; lacks ear tufts and very tame. Chocolate brown with fine white spots thickly crowded on head. Large facial disk is pale grayish with dark border, yellow eyes, and yellow bill. Immature is dusky brown; eyebrows dirty whitish or gray; belly obscurely blotched.
Similar Species- Northern Saw-whet Owl, Hawk Owl, Northern Pygmy-owl, Screech-owls
Spring call is similar to the tolling of a soft bell or dripping water. Also a series of high-pitched whistles, rising slightly.
Breeds from central Alaska, east across portions of Canada to Labrador and New Brunswick, and south to northeastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, and northeastern Minnesota, and further south in mountains to Colorado and New Mexico. Winters mainly in breeding range, and south irregularly to northern United States.
Eats mainly small mammals (often red-backed voles, but also shrews, pocket gophers, and deer mice). Will sometimes eat birds and insects.
Hunts from perch; captures prey on ground. caches food. Nests in abandoned or natural cavity in standing snag in older forests with complex physical structures. Defends nest site only. roosts in dense cover by day; forages mostly at night. Idaho study found home range averaged 1451 ha in winter and 1152 ha in summer. Best foraging habitat was in spruce/fir stands.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
Hayward, G.D., P.H. Hayward, and E.O. Garton. 1993. Ecology of boreal owls in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA. Wildl. Mono. 59.