Northern Hawk-owl

Northern Hawk-Owl

A Northern Hawk-owl is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Northern Hawk-owls. We have also put together a list of fun Northern Hawk-owl t-shirts, Northern Hawk-owl bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.

About Northern Hawk-owls

The Northern Hawk-owl, referred to simply as Hawk-owl, is the only species of owls that are not nocturnal. It is also non-migratory.

Description and Identification

Northern Hawk Owls are medium-sized owls with an oval-shaped body that is approximately
14.2 – 17.7 inches long. They are accentuated by their long, pointed tails and their short,
pointed wings that have a wingspan of 27.9 inches. Females are slightly bigger than males,
but both sexes have similar plumages. The plumage is dark brown with an off-white spotting
on their backs, except for the back of their necks which dons a black V-shaped pattern. Their
underbellies are white, and the color continues to their toes with brown bands on their
breast and stomach. Their long tails also have a brown band. Their faces are smoky white
and are marked with a black border, a flat head, yellow eyes, and a yellow curved beak.
They greatly resemble Cooper’s Hawks in both appearance and behavior.

Northern Hawk-owl Size

Male: Length is  36 -4 2.5 cm, Weight – 300 grams

Female: Length is 37.2 – 44.7 cm, Weight – 340 grams

Both the male and female have a similar wingspan of about 45 cm.

Northern Hawk-owl Appearance

Apart from the size difference, the male and female have a similar appearance with dark brown plumage and off-white spotting all over the body. Its underbelly is mostly white, which continues on to its toes. Its breast and stomach have distinct brown bands.

The Hawk-owl’s face is white with black edges encircling it. It has yellow eyes and a matching sharp, curved beak.

Northern Hawk-owl Food

Northern Hawk Owls mainly feed on small mammals and birds. They primarily feed on voles,
but their diet also includes mice, rats, lemmings, partridge, spruce grouse, doves, pileated
woodpeckers, sparrows, jays, robins, starlings, buntings, grackles, and finches. Juvenile
hares also make up a significant part of their populations during breeding seasons. These
birds are diurnal and do not have a preferred time of the day for hunting. Their diet during
winter mainly consists of ground-dwelling birds like ptarmigan and the grouse. These birds
have exceptional hearing and are capable of plunging into the snow to capture rodents
below the surface.

The Hawk-owl, like other owl species, is a bird of prey. It feeds on small mammals such as hares and rodents that it can carry or at times catches fish in rivers and ponds.

It also catches smaller birds in the sky as it flies around during the day

Northern Hawk-owl Habitat

These birds can be found breeding in open coniferous or mixed forests that border with open
areas. They are also spotted in forests near marshes that are dotted with trees, as they are
sites that provide good perches for the birds. They are especially easy to spot in muskegs,
clearings, swamp valleys, and meadows. Burned areas of the boreal forest are also a
popular choice for nesting and foraging for Northern Hawk Owls. They are frequently found
in deciduous species present in coniferous forests, such as larch, birch, poplar, and willow;
they do not prefer dense forests and seem to avoid dense spruce-fir forests.

They live in meadows, clearings muskegs, swamp valleys, and forest openings. They avoid areas with dense vegetation and thickets because it is difficult for them to fly in closed spaces due to their size.

Range and Migration

Northern Hawk Owls are birds of the boreal forests, is known for behaving like hawks but
looking like owls. These solitary birds do not migrate and tend to remain around their
breeding grounds in the boreal forests, ranging from Alaska, through western Canada, till
Quebec in the east. While they do not undertake seasonal migrations, they move around
their breeding range in order to find food. As a result, these birds can sometimes be spotted
south of their range in the northern United States when prey resources are low in their native

Northern Hawk-owl Behavior and Life

The Northern Hawk is non-migratory and its breeding ground is usually its winter habitat.

During mating season, which for them is around March, the male will mate with a female and establish a bond. After the female lays the eggs, the male will go out looking for food as the female stays and guards the eggs. However, after the eggs hatch, their roles switch. The male will be left in the nest with the hatchling as the female goes out to look for food.

The male protects the nest furiously until the young chicks leave, which happens after three weeks. The male hawk-owl will attack anything, including humans if they approach the nest too closely.

Northern Hawk-owl Nesting

Nest sites are selected jointly by the males and females in open forests with scattered trees
or along the forest edge, usually near water. Like many other owls, they nest in holes
created by woodpeckers or in naturally decayed hollows and broken tree trunks. Additional
material is not added to the nest hole, but the floor of the hole accumulates pellets and fur
from prey that is brought to the nest. Although they primarily nest in holes or hollows, they
can occasionally be seen using old stick nests or selecting a site on a cliff.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Northern Hawk-owls

The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Northern Hawk-owls are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

Northern Hawk-owl T-shirts

If you love the Northern Hawk-owl you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Northern Hawk-owl Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Northern Hawk-owl is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

Northern Hawk-owl Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Northern Hawk-owl. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Bird Feeders for Northern Hawk-owls

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses for Northern Hawk-owls

There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.

Please Share to Help Us Get Kids Bird Watching