Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)


French: Nyctale de Tengmalm German: Raufußkauz Spanish: Mochuelo boreal
Other common names: Tengmalm's Owl

Strix funerea


, 1758,



Nominate and pallens intergrade in W Asia. Races pallens and magnus intergrade in Yakutsk area of E Russia, where population sometimes separated as race jakutorum. Race beickianus sometimes synonymized with caucasicus#R. Proposed race sibiricus (C Siberia to Sakhalin and NE China) included within pallens, but may be worthy of recognition. Study of extreme W Eurasian population (isolated in Pyrenees Mts) revealed no difference in genetic structure from N European population (Fennoscandia)#R. Form described as Athene brama poikila is apparently referable to present species#R. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. f. funereus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Europe from N Scandinavia S to Pyrenees and then E to Urals, excluding Caucasus.
  • A. f. caucasicus (Buturlin, 1907) – Caucasus; possibly this race or nominate in N Turkey.
  • A. f. pallens (Schalow, 1908) – W Siberia to Tien Shan, and S Siberia and N Mongolia E through NE China (Heilongjiang) to Russian Far East (including Sakhalin).
  • A. f. magnus (Buturlin, 1907) – NE Siberia from Kolyma to Kamchatka.
  • A. f. beickianus Stresemann, 1928 – NW India (Lahul, in N Himachal) and NC China (NE Qinghai).
  • A. f. richardsoni (Bonaparte, 1838) – North America from C Alaska S in Rocky Mts to W USA (S to N New Mexico#R), and E through Canada to Labrador.
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 21–25 cm, 90–115 g; female 25–28 cm, 120–195 g; wingspan 50–62 cm. Conspicuous grey-white facial disc, framed by brown-black border and... read more


    Male’s primary advertisement a “staccato song”, series of trills that increase in... read more


    Boreal and subalpine forest and mixed woodland. In Europe, breeds in montane pine (Pinus... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small mammals, birds and insects; diet includes shrews (Sorex), red-backed voles (Clethrionomys rutilus) and other voles... read more


    Season Mar–Jul. Monogamous, polygynous and polyandrous; cases of polygyny and polyandry coincide with peaks in vole numbers; pair-... read more


    Generally year-round resident within stable home range, but disperses in years when prey scarce.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Population estimates largely conjectural, even in Europe, owing to species’ elusive nature and mostly nocturnal... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 30 March 2020).