Deep Dive: Northern Hawk Owl

by OBDK on December 20, 2021

Northern Hawk Owls are rare owls to spot when you’re out and about. They're also one of the least studied birds in North America.1&2 These owls stand 36-41cm tall, have a 21-26cm wingspan, and weigh 7.5-14oz.3


These owls fly and hunt similarly to hawks, and they’ll take down voles, lemmings, squirrels, grouse, and small birds.1&2  They are found in northern regions, such as Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia. Only one of the three subspecies of this owl lives in North America, however.2


Northern Hawk Owls have dark brown feathers on their heads with white streaks and spots. Their bellies are white with brown streaks, and they have yellow eyes.2 They are active during the day and are usually found hunting for food in open areas that also have forests nearby.1&3 


They don’t usually reuse their nests, although there are some exceptions. It’s more common for them to return to the same areas each year to nest, even if they don’t use the same nest specifically in that area. They’ll tend to follow the flow of their prey populations. Predators to Northern Hawk Owls are Northern Goshawks, Great Horned Owls, Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Lynxes.2 


They aren’t considered endangered or threatened.3 While it’s hard to spot one in the wild, when they are spotted, these owls don’t seem to be bothered when humans are around. The exception to this is during the breeding season when they’re protecting their young. They may act aggressively toward humans during that time, so it’s best to keep a safe distance away.2


Do you have another owl you’d like us to cover? Connect with us on social media or reply to this email and we’ll be sure to cover it! 

  1. Sibley’s Owls of North America, by David Allen Sibley. Published by Earth Sky + Water, LLC. 2016.



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