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The Boreal Owl

That same owl, note the well feathered feet to keep the bird insulated during the winter

By: Scott Rashid

The Boreal Owl is so named because it is found in the boreal forests throughout the northern hemisphere. We are fortunate to have these owls living within RMNP. They are most often heard but not seen. Many a birder has placed this species on their life list as “heard only” due to the owls ability to remain out of sight when vocalizing after dark.

Within RMNP the Boreal Owl prefers the old growth forest near the Hidden Valley. I found my first Boreal Owl there in 1994 and most years since then I have been able to see one of these beautiful birds. The interesting thing about this species is that since 1994 I had never heard more than a single calling bird within that area. In 2011, with the assistance of Gary C. Miller of RMNP we began setting up a series of nets to trap and band these owls to determine the number of individuals that live in the Hidden Valley area.

Having only heard a single bird at one time, I figured that we would catch one lone male and that would be all. Well, much to our surprise, last year we caught four owls, three young birds and one adult female. So far this year, we have caught three young birds, all of which were born this year. Therefore, there are apparently many, many more Boreal Owls in RMNP than anyone had ever thought.

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