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Another Small Owl Called the Boreal Owl

The boreal owl (Aegolius funereus) is a small, typical owl that is found in Montana and in the mountains of the west. It is also found in Europe, where it is usually known as either Tengmalm’s owl or Richardson’s owl.

The species name, funereus, is an allusion to the fact that lore has it that this owl’s call signals the death of people, though this is only folklore.

This owl is about the size of an American robin, which is rather small. It weighs a little less than a half-pound and has a wingspan of right around two feet. This isn’t very big for an owl, though it is larger than some species. It is grouped in with screech owls and makes both a whistling or screeching call and a hooting one.

Boreal owls are nocturnal and highly secretive, so not a great deal is known about it. It lives in primarily spruce and fir forests, especially in the mountains, such as the Rockies and the Alps, and it hunts from a perch in a tree, about 10-20 feet off the ground and a different perch is used each night. The primary prey is small rodents.

This is a pretty owl. The back is brown, with white spots and streaks. The belly has reversed coloration; white with brown spots and streaks. The face is a heart-shaped disk.

Although we know less about this owl than nearly any other owl, it is believed to exist in fairly large numbers. It is a year-round breeding resident of Montana. It is a northern owl and in North America, it is found throughout the southern Canadian provinces and into northern Canada, the northern US, the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains, and throughout most of Alaska.

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Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. For instance, the northern pygmy owl has a proclivity for songbirds, which are also awake during the day, the experts said. The northern hawk owl, which hunts during the day, as well as at dawn and dusk, eats small birds and voles and other diurnal animals.

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    • The interesting thing is to consider which came first; the preferred diet of the owl or the behavior that allows it to eat the preferred diet. If an owl is diurnal, at least in part, it makes sense that it would primarily eat the animals that are available when it is awake.

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