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Boreal Owl
(Tengmalm's Owl

Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Aegolius
Species: funereus

La. strix, strigis  owl
La. forma  form, shape, kind
Gr. aigolios  bird of ill omen
La. aegolius  night bird of prey
La. funus   funeral
La. funereus  deadly, mortal, fatal

Boreal Owl

Small. Mostly pale facial disks with dark border. Dark brown upperparts with large white spots. Pale underparts with large, dark irregular streaks. Yellow eyes. The Boreal Owl is most likely to be confused with the smaller Northern Saw-whet Owl but lacks brown in the face, has a pale bill, has a dark border to the face and darker brown upperparts.

As its name indicates this owl is found in northern coniferous and mixed hardwood forests. Distributed circumpolarly it is found in northern Europe (where it is known as Tengmalm's Owl), Northern Asia, Alaska, and Canada. It is most common in spruce or pine woods, although it is regularly found nesting in aspen in Minnesota.

USGS Boreal Owl Alaska Map
USGS Boreal Owl Map

The first report of its nesting in the lower 48 states came from Minnesota in 1978. Since then a breeding population has been found in northeast Minnesota and local populations reported in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Washington.

While not considered a common resident of the lower 48 states, ongoing research may cause a reassessment of this birds status in the near future. Two projects are currently being conducted in Minnesota to determine the population status of this owl.

The Boreal Owl is a cavity nester which will also use nest boxes, particularly in Europe. The male sings near a cavity to attract a female. The female does most of incubation while the male feeds her.

Boreal Owl, Birds of the United States, Thomas Nuttall

Lays three to six eggs which hatch after about four weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another four or five weeks.

Night hunter of small mammals and lesser quantities of birds. Population densities and migrations of the Boreal Owl can be tied to rodent populations.

The Boreal Owl Nestbox has a 7" by 7" floor, 16" inside ceiling, 2 1/2" tall by 4 1/2" wide entrance hole located 14" above the floor and ventilation openings.

Assemble with corrosion resistant screws and fit to pre-drilled countersunk pilot holes. Secure hinged roof with shutter hooks for easy access and safety when maintaining at heights.

Mount out of reach (10 feet or higher) near woodland edges or clearings. Place some wood chips on the floor. Squirrels may use this box.

Woodworking Plans for Boreal Owl Birdhouse
Boreal Owl Nestbox Plans

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