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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) is a medium sized owl. The term “hawk” refers to its falcon-like wing shape and long tail. It is the only species in the genus Surnia. It is found in the boreal forests of North America and Eurasia, usually on the edges of more open woodland. It is non-migratory, but occasionally will fly south of its breeding range.

This bird is 14 to 17 inches long with a 27 to 32.5 inch wingspan. It has a rounded head with yellow eyes, dark brown upper parts and barred under parts and tail. This bird nests in large tree cavities or uses nests abandoned by other large birds. It has little fear of humans, and will attack if the young are approached too closely.

This is a partially diurnal owl, which hunts voles and birds like thrushes. It waits on a perch and takes advantage of its rapid flight to overtake prey. The Hawk Owl has exceptional hearing and can plunge into snow to capture rodents below the surface.

Northern Hawk Owl