Boreal owl


The boreal owl is the most common owl species in Finland, breeding in the whole country except the northernmost Lapland. The boreal owl prefers dense coniferous forests, but accepts also older, mixed forest areas as its habitat. The boreal owl most often nests in a hole previously occupied by a black woodpecker, but as modern forestry decreases the number of suitable nesting trees, it also accepts nest boxes. Male boreal owls are relatively non-migratory, but females travel on a wider area searching for food. The boreal owl feeds mostly on small rodents, but eats also other small mammals, as well as birds, especially during the winter. The boreal owl is largely nocturnal in its habits, but is forced to hunt during daylight in the northernmost parts of its range, because of the very short nights in the summer.


The boreal owl is a protected species in nature conservation areas in Finland.


On an unsuccessful vole population year, in addition to the young boreal owls, also the female boreal owls migrate to better vole pastures in search of nutrition. The boreal owl may also switch from hunting the hiding small mammals from under the snow, into hunting the more visible flying creatures, namely birds.

Boreal owl

Aegolius funereus



SIZE: 90–220 g, wingspan: 55-60cm, females larger than males.

BREEDING: Female boreal owl lays 4-6 eggs in March-April, incubation period 26-27 days and nights.

LIFESPAN: According to ringing data, the oldest boreal owl has lived to 11 years of age. The oldest boreal owl of RanuaZoo lived to be over 15 years of age.

Did you know that you can easily detect a boreal owl during its mating season in February-April by the sound of its voice? The male boreal owl entices the females, and declares the boundaries of its territory to other male boreal owls, by hooting tirelessly from early evening into late at night: ”pu-pu-pu-pu-pu,” can be heard to a distance of even 2 km on a quiet spring evening.