|Conservation status||Still widespread and common, although may have declined in parts of south with loss of swamp habitat. In recent decades, has expanded range in northwest, and is now competing there with Spotted Owl.|
|Habitat||Woodlands, wooded river bottoms, wooded swamps. Favors mostly dense and thick woods with only scattered clearings, especially in low-lying and swampy areas. Most common in deciduous or mixed woods in southeast, but in north and northwest may be found in mature coniferous trees.|
Hunts by night or day, perhaps most at dawn and dusk. Seeks prey by watching from perch, also by flying low through forest; may hover before dropping to clutch prey in talons.
2-3, rarely 4. White. Incubation is mostly or entirely by female, about 28-33 days; male brings food to incubating female. Young: Female may remain with young much of time at first, while male hunts and brings back food for her and for young. Age of young at first flight about 6 weeks.
Female may remain with young much of time at first, while male hunts and brings back food for her and for young. Age of young at first flight about 6 weeks.
Mostly small mammals. Eats many mice and other small rodents, also squirrels (including flying squirrels), rabbits, opossums, shrews, other small mammals. Also eats various birds, frogs, salamanders, snakes, lizards, some insects. May take aquatic creatures such as crayfish, crabs, fish.
Courtship involves both male and female bobbing and bowing heads, raising wings, and calling while perched close together. Male may feed female in courtship. Members of pair often call in duet. Nest site is in large natural hollow in tree, broken-off snag, or on old nest of hawk, crow, or squirrel. Rarely nests on ground. In east, often uses old Red-shouldered Hawk nest; hawk and owl may use same nest in alternate years.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Permanent resident throughout its range, although individuals may wander away from nesting habitat in winter.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA loud barking hoo, hoo, hoo-hoo; hoo, hoo; hoo, hooo-aw! and a variety of other barking calls and screams.
Learn more about this sound collection.