Monday, August 6, 2018

Northern Hawk Owls (Surnia ulula) and their young

Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula), adults and fledglings, Manitoba, Canada, © Christian Artuso.

Although the Northern Hawk Owl is a common species in Manitoba and I have seen as many as 43 in a single day, it is not all that often that I get to enjoy watching a family interact. The past two years though have brought great opportunities to observe pairs with 2 – 4 young. 

Here are two photos of one of the breeding pairs, hunting to bring food for their young. This pair brought in two voles in less than 15 minutes during this observation. As the second photo shows, they are not too proud to perch on wires if these provide a good vantage over a prey-rich meadow. They are also mostly diurnal (these photos in the early morning).

And here are the two youngsters this pair was feeding (another pair recently had four hungry mouths to feed).  You can see that they are quite well developed but they still sport a little down on teh top of the head.

A better look at each of the two youngsters as they shuffled perches (photos are taken from a distance and heavily cropped)

I got lucky to catch this youngster in mid call, not long after it had been fed a vole (I was not quick enough to photograph the prey delivery, which was over with in a matter of seconds).

And here are two photos of a youngster taking off when the adult came in with a vole. One short call from the adults and the youngster flew approximately 50 m to an open perch where the prey was delivered.

Another Northern Hawk Owl in a different location was observed in an interesting behaviour, flicking its tail up and down. There were small passerines in the area and this seemed to incite mobbing behaviour. 


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