Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Northern Hawk-owl (Surnia ulula)


French: Épervière boréale German: Sperbereule Spanish: Cárabo gavilán
Other common names: Hawk Owl

Strix Ulula


, 1758,



Siberian populations, formerly separated as pallasi, are included in nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. u. ulula (Linnaeus, 1758) – N Eurasia E to Kamchatka and Sakhalin, S in C Siberia to Tarbagatai and to taiga of N Mongolia (from Uvs Lake Valley and Khangai, Khövsgöl and Khentii Mts E to R Ulz and R Herlen Valleys, also Khalkhgol district).
  • S. u. tianschanica Smallbones, 1906 – C Asia (Tien Shan) and NW & NE China.
  • S. u. caparoch (Statius Müller, 1776) – Alaska E through C & S Canada to Labrador and Newfoundland, S to extreme N USA (Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan#R#R); in winter occasionally farther S in USA.
  • Descriptive notes

    36–41 cm; male 215–375 g, female 323–392 g; wingspan 74–81 cm. Distinctive owl with long tail, broad head, thickset body, and blackish, dark brown and... read more


    Male gives rapid, trilling “prullul-lullu” with burbling quality, lasting up to 14... read more


    Occupies forest tundra and boreal taiga as far as tree-line and ranging S to edge of forest steppe... read more

    Food and feeding

    In breeding season, almost wholly voles (Microtinae), with a few small birds and larger mammals; also occasional amphibian, fish or insect... read more


    Season c. Mar–Sept. Presumably seasonally monogamous; occasional polygyny; no data available on possible incidence of monogamy... read more


    Dispersive and irruptive; essentially nomadic; dependent largely on prey availability. When voles... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Numbers fluctuate markedly with abundance of small rodents. Difficult to assess population status or trends; breeding range... 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., Christie, D.A. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Northern Hawk-owl (Surnia ulula). 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 4 April 2020).