Boreal Owl
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Clade: Afroaves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Subfamily: Surniinae
Genus: Aegolius
Kaup, 1829

Aegolius is a small genus of owls. Three of the species are restricted to the New World, but th Boreal Owl has a circumpolar range through North America, Eurasia, the Alps and the Rockies.

The species are:

These are essentially nocturnal woodland owls of temperate or colder climates; the two northern species breed in North America’s coniferous forests, and the Unspotted Saw-whet Owl and Buff-fronted Owl (Central and South America respectively) are species of mountain cloud or oak forests.

These are mainly resident birds, but the northern species at least will sometimes move south or to lower altitudes in autumn. The movements are difficult to monitor due to the problems of detecting these nocturnal owls outside the breeding season when they are not calling.

Aegolius owls are small, dumpy, short tailed and broad winged, with large round facial discs. The species varies from 18-27 cm in length.

These owls take mainly rodents and other small mammals as their prey, but will also feed on birds, bats, insects and other invertebrates according to what is available.

The Aegolius owls are dark brown or black above, and whitish or buff below, marked with streaks or spots in the two northern forms. The head is large, with yellow eyes and a well-defined facial disc. The flight is strong, agile and direct.

Aegolius owls breed in tree holes laying several eggs. They have repetitive whistling calls in the breeding season.


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