BOREAL OWL – (Aegolius funereus)
The Boreal Owl is a small owl, measuring around 25 cm (10 in.) long. The head is large relative to the body size, and there is a whitish facial disk surrounding yellow eyes. The plumage is brown with white specks for the upper parts, and the under parts are white with large brown stripes. The curved bill is yellow, and the legs and feet are covered with white feathers. The claws are dark brown. Females are similar to males, but larger and heavier.
This owl is called Tengmalm’s Owl in Europe (after Swedish naturalist Peter Gustav Tengmalm). The English name ‘Boreal’ stems from Greek ‘Boreas’, the name of the god of north winds and ‘Owl’ is an onomatopoeia for the bird’s call and comes from Cockney. As for the Latin genus name ‘Aegolius’, it is ancient Greek for ‘a kind of owl’, and the species name ‘funereus’ refers to ‘funeral’, because its call has been compared to the bell of a funeral (Ernest Choate).
The boreal owl hunts from a perch on a low position on a tree. These owls guide themselves on their excellent hearing for locating prey, which consist of small rodents, but also small birds and mammals, amphibians and insects.
Boreal owls nest in woodpecker cavities or a natural one, but will also accept a human-made nest box. This trait is a good way to attract them.
Although not breeding on PEI, the boreal owl has been sighted occasionally on the island throughout the four seasons. There have been some reports of breeding individuals in the other Maritimes provinces, but its main generally year-round range is the boreal coniferous forest and the mountain forests around the globe.