People passionate about nature

Boreal Owl

Above photo supplied by Rudolf Koes


How do I recognize it?

Boreal Owls are about the size of robins, but chunkier. They can be distinguished from Northern Saw-whet Owls, which look somewhat similar, by their slightly larger size, darker brown plumage and white facial disk, bordered by black. They sound very similar to Wilson’s Snipe - a series of rapidly repeated “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” calls.


Does it migrate?

The species does not migrate, but may at times wander outside of its boreal forest haunts, due to lack of food. In such winters it can show up anywhere in the province and may even be seen hunting during the day time. When found roosting somewhere, it is easily approached, but care should be taken not to disturb it.


Photo supplied by Rudolf Koes


Where does it live?

Boreal Owls breed in boreal forests across North America and also in Eurasia. In Manitoba they range from the Whiteshell to Churchill.



Photo supplied by Rudolf Koes


Where can I see it?

Being a nocturnal hunter, it is usually very difficult to see to see this owl. It is easiest to locate  – at least hear it – during the relatively short time that it “sings” in spring, from late February to mid-April. Although numbers fluctuate from year to year, good areas to try are Riding Mountain National Park, Nopiming Provincial Park, Hecla - Grindstone Provincial Park and PR. 308.

Conservation status
The species is classified as Least Concern. Loss of breeding habitat, due to forest fires, logging  and other activities, may impact local populations.

Did you know?
Boreal Owl is in the top 10 of “Most Wanted” species by birders in North America.


Written by Rudolf Koes