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Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owl

NH Conservation Status: Not listed


State Rank Status: No data for NH. Occasional visitor approximately once every 3-5 years. Population trend unknown.


Distribution: Very rare & irregular winter visitor in NH. In winters of food scarcity, it irrupts southward into southern Canada and the United States.


Description: Up to 18” long and up to 28” wingspan. Body color whitish underneath with dark barring on the chest, belly, wings and tail; whitish facial disks outlined with black border, crown and forehead dark with white spots.


Voice: A rapid, rolling, whistle lasting up to 14 seconds by the males and shorter for the females.


Commonly Confused Species: Barring on underparts similar to barred owl except more complete covering all parts; barred owls lack black outline on face.


Habitat: Northern coniferous or mixed forests near openings for feeding.


Nesting: Females nest in tree cavities or tops of broken trees but do not build a nest. A full clutch typically consists of 3-13 eggs and young are helpless upon hatching.


Diet: Small mammals and birds including voles, hares and grouse. Can visually locate prey up to a half mile away and can find and catch prey under 1 foot of snow.