Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)

Northern Hawk Owl
Our next quest was to locate and photograph Northern Hawk Owls and Great Gray Owls. We had to travel from Drumheller up to the Edmonton area where we stayed in Fort Saskatchewan, as city outside of Edmonton.. We met up with our local guide who informed us that although the week before there were Great Gray Owls around, that because of the warmer weather and wind they had disappeared into the woods. However, he had seen at least a dozen Northern Hawk Owls. We then spent the rest of that day and all of the next day searching for the Northern Hawk Owls. Most of the time when we found them they were sitting high in the trees in the distance. In the late afternoon the owls became active and we were able to catch flight shots, feeding behavior and they would come in and sit on the fence posts.

The Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) is a non-migratory bird, however on occasions it will erupt southward. In fact a couple of years ago I photograph one in Maine and this year they have been reported in Vermont.

Northern Hawk Owls are found across the northern holarctic region both in North America and Eurasia. The owls are unevenly distributed in variable through the boreal forest liking open coniferous forest or coniferous forests with deciduous species.
Northern Hawk Owl


The Northern Hawk Owl feeds on small rodents and mammals that are bigger in size and a variety of birds. They are partially a diurnal hunter but can hunt at any time.
Northern Hawk Owl Flying

Northern Hawk Owl Flying

Northern Hawk Owl Flying



The Hawk-Owl prefers open, forest-type environments when perching.  Northern Hawk-Owls will perch on the top of spruce trees looking for prey. When the Hawk-Owl attacks, it goes from a horizontal posture into a gliding dive. The Hawk-Owl has exceptional hearing and can plunge into snow to capture rodents below the surface.
Northern Hawk Owl coming in In a Glide
Northern Hawk Owl Catching a Rodent in the Snow
Northern Hawk Owl Starting to Fly out from the Snow

Northern Hawk Owl Flying Away with Prey



An interesting feature of the Northern Hawk Owl is that if they are well fed they will cache the prey on underneath the bark on trees to save for a time when they cannot find food. Apparently they do remember where they cached the food. We were lucky enough to see them catch food and then cache it.
Northern Hawk Owl Caching Food

Northern Hawk Owl Caching Food

Northern Hawk Owl Caching Food