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Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)

Boreal Owl

NH Conservation Status: Not listed


State Rank Status: Occasional visitor reported approximately once every 3-5 years. Population trend is unknown. One breeding record from 2001.


Distribution: Rare winter visitor throughout NH.


Description: Up to 11” tall with up to 24” wingspan. White facial disks w/black border, white belly w/chocolate brown streaks. Females are larger than males.


Voice: A series of low whistled toots.


Commonly Confused Species: Northern saw-whet owls are smaller and lack the black outline around the face.


Habitat: Boreal and sub-alpine forests with spruce, fir, aspen, poplar and birch.


Nesting: Boreal owl pairs are monogamous and nest in tree cavities but will also use nest boxes. Females lay 1-19 eggs and chicks are born with closed eyes and white down feathers.


Diet: Small mammals, birds and insects. Prey are located by sound. Boreal owls have one ear opening high up and the other down low – the different positions help it locate exactly where sounds come from even from under vegetation and snow.