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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Boreal Owl -- Aegolius funereus

RANGE: Breeds from central Alaska and central Yukon to central Quebec and Labrador, south to northern British Columbia and central Alberta, across to northeastern Minnesota, western and central Ontario, southern Quebec and New Brunswick; also to central Colorado and northeastern Wyoming in the Rocky Mountains.

STATUS: Local and uncommon in United States.

HABITAT: Occurs in mixed coniferous-hardwood forests, but prefers extensive growth of stunted spruce in close proximity to open grasslands. Also inhabits dense alder thickets and forest edges.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Abandoned woodpecker holes in dead or live trees for nesting.

NEST: Prefers abandoned northern flicker or pileated woodpecker cavities in conifers, but will also nest in woodpecker holes in deciduous trees. Usually locates nest 10 to 25 feet above the ground. Sometimes nests in natural cavities and rarely in abandoned bird nests.

FOOD: Preys primarily on small mammals such as lemmings, voles, and mice. Also eats insects, bats, some frogs, salamanders, small snakes and lizards, and during the nesting season, a few birds.

REFERENCES: Heintzelman 1979, Karalus and Eckert 1974.

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