Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

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Northern hawk owls are dark chocolate in color with white spots. The breast and belly regions are creamy white crossed by horizontal, cinnamon brown bars. The have poorly developed facial disks that are framed by black lines. Hawk owls are often referred to as the "earless" owl, as they lack true ear tufts. Both of their legs are fully feathered.


Northern hawk owls are primarily diurnal but may also be active at night.  The primary predator of the Northern hawk owl is the great horned owl. At night, great horned owls kill roosting owls while they are resting, or enter nests and take eggs or young. To avoid predation, the Northern hawk owl flattens its plumage and stands erect.

Food Habits

Northern hawk owls prey on small mammals including voles, lemmings, mice, shrews, snowshoe hare, cottontail, moles, squirrels and rats. During the summer, they consume primarily rodents, and in the winter they shift to birds such as ptarmigan and grouse. They hunt both during the day and the night.  Like other birds of prey, northern hawk owls regurgitate a small pellet containing undigested bones and hair after they eat.


Northern hawk owls are generally monogamous. Breeding occurs March to June, with the female laying from three to thirteen eggs per season. Incubation lasts 25 to 29 days. The male provides food and protection against predators. After the eggs have hatched, the young are tended to by the female. Three to five weeks after hatching, the young leave the nest.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web
Alaska Department of Fish and Game