Northern Hawk Owl
(Surnia ulula)

Summary

Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (flickr.com/photos/jukka_jantunen)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Northern Hawk Owl breeds across the circumpolar northern latitudes. In Canada, it breeds north to the tree line and is most abundant in open boreal forests. Its use of remote and inaccessible breeding habitats means that the Northern Hawk Owl is poorly monitored in Canada, though results from the Christmas Bird Count suggest that the population has undergone little overall change since about 1970. A large fraction of the species' range lies north of intensive commercial logging, in areas with comparatively few anthropogenic threats. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Not at Risk1992 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeLowAt an Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada5,000 - 50,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Resident

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaLow

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late March and late April and ends between mid-July and late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

Although the species is a boreal forest specialist, it is believed to be comparatively resilient to logging. More than 50% of the species' range lies north of areas subjected to commercial timber harvest (Duncan and Duncan 2014), and the species may in fact benefit from increased small mammal abundance and more open habitat made with some logging prescriptions (Sonerud 1997).

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Stewardship
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Northwestern Interior ForestNorthwestern Interior Forest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Stewardship
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Stewardship
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
 

References