What do you know about Boreal Owls?

by OBDK on March 17, 2021

Boreal owls are known scientifically as Aegolius funereus. They also are known as Tengmalm’s Owl, after the surname of a Swedish naturalist.1 These birds are about the size of a robin, and stand between 8 and 11 inches tall.2


These owls are circumpolar and are found near the North Pole. They live in northern parts of North America, like Alaska and Canada, and can also be found in Eurasia.3 They reside in boreal forests that have spruce, aspen, poplar, and birch trees.2 Dense trees help them stay safe from predators and weather.3


They don’t build their nests, but will take over cavities that already exist, like old woodpecker holes or holes naturally found in trees. They also won’t turn down nest boxes.1&3 When finding a mate, the males will store food in the nest spot and call to attract a female.1



Boreal owls are nocturnal, and so they’ll hunt at night.1 The exception is that since they live up north where part of the year has 24 hour sunlight, they’ll end up needing to hunt while the sun is up.3


These guys will roost in a different tree each day and wait to spot prey.2 They’ll use their great hearing to locate their prey and then swoop down to grab them. Small rodents are usually the go-to, although they’ll also eat squirrels, bats, frogs, and even other small birds.1


Family Life

Boreal owls usually lay between 3 and 8 eggs. They’ll incubate them for around a month.1 It takes about a week for them to open their eyes.They’ll fledge after five weeks.3


These owls don’t live long. They live only for about 7 or 8 years. They’re threatened by bigger raptors and by Pine Martens.1  In general, however, they are listed as of “Least Concern”.3 


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Sources & Further Reading: 

  1. https://www.owlpages.com/owls/species.php?s=3020

  2. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Boreal_Owl/id

  3. https://peregrinefund.org/explore-raptors-species/owls/boreal-owl

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