Boreal Owl: A Fascinating Creature of the North

by Chris Anderson on January 30, 2024
The Boreal Owl, also known as Tengmalm's Owl, is a small but mighty creature inhabiting the northern hemisphere's boreal forests. Despite its small size, the Boreal Owl has captured the attention of many birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts due to its unique characteristics and behaviors. 
BOREAL OWL Aegolius funereus

In this article, we will explore the different aspects of this fascinating creature, including its size and weight, habitat, prey, unique behavior, reproduction, and what we find amazing about Boreal Owls.

Size & Weight

The Boreal Owl is one of the smallest owls in North America, measuring only 8-10 inches in length and weighing between 3-7 ounces. Despite its small size, it has a wingspan of up to 22 inches, allowing it to fly silently through the forest in search of prey.


The Boreal Owl can be found in the boreal forests of North America, Europe, and Asia. It prefers dense spruce and fir forests with open spaces and dense underbrush. These forests provide the perfect environment for the Boreal Owl to hunt and breed, offering ample prey and nesting sites.


The Boreal Owl feeds primarily on small rodents, such as voles and mice, but it has also been known to eat small birds and insects. Unlike other owls that hunt at night, the Boreal Owl is crepuscular, which means it is most active during dawn and dusk. This unique behavior allows it to hunt when its prey is most active, increasing its chances of a successful hunt.

Unique Behavior

One of the most unique behaviors of the Boreal Owl is its ability to lower its body temperature during the winter months. This is known as torpor, allowing the owl to conserve energy when food is scarce. The Boreal Owl also has remarkable hearing, which it uses to locate prey in the dark. Its facial disc, a circular arrangement of feathers around its face, acts as a sound collector, directing sounds toward the owl's ears.


The Boreal Owl is a monogamous bird; pairs typically mate for life. Breeding season occurs in the late winter and early spring, with females laying 3-7 eggs in a tree cavity or abandoned woodpecker hole. Both parents will take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young. The young will fledge after about a month, and the parents will continue to care for them for several weeks until they can hunt for themselves.

What We Find Amazing About Boreal Owls

One of the most amazing things about Boreal Owls is their ability to survive in harsh environments. They can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and their torpor behavior allows them to conserve energy when food is scarce. Despite their small size, their unique facial disc and remarkable hearing make them highly effective hunters.

Another fantastic thing about Boreal Owls is their role in the ecosystem. By feeding on small rodents, they help control their populations, which benefits the forest ecosystem. They also provide food for larger predators, such as eagles and hawks, further contributing to the balance of the ecosystem.

In conclusion, the Boreal Owl is a fascinating creature that has captured the hearts of many nature enthusiasts. Its small size, unique behaviors, and essential role in the ecosystem make it a creature worth learning about and protecting.

By understanding and appreciating the Boreal Owl, we can help to ensure its survival for generations to come.