The boreal forest stretches across Canada and Alaska, a huge expanse of woods, wetlands and wilderness. And it’s full of magnificent forest owls that depend on mice and other rodents for food. Those populations can boom and bust, so in lean years, hungry owls often fly as far south as the northern U.S. to find food.
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Are Northern Forest Owls Coming South This Winter?
Adapted from a script by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Winter wind blowing]
The boreal forest stretches across Canada and Alaska, a huge expanse of woods, wetlands and wilderness. And it’s full of magnificent forest owls.
The owls depend on mice and other rodents that live in the boreal forest, and those populations can boom and bust. In lean years, hungry owls often fly south to find food.
[Great Gray Owl hoots]
There are several species of forest owls that occasionally surprise birders in the northern United States.
You might be lucky enough to spot a Great Gray Owl, standing more than two feet tall, with intense yellow eyes.
[Great Gray Owl call]
Or a Northern Hawk Owl, with its long tail and streamlined body.
[Northern Hawk Owl call]
And maybe, if you walk softly enough and look very carefully, you might see the shy Boreal Owl.
[Boreal owl call]
Birders sometimes call these winter events “flight years” or “irruptions.” No matter what you call them, spending time with an owl on a cold winter walk is one of the best ways to celebrate the season.
[Boreal Owl hoots]
I’m Ashley Ahearn.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Ashley Ahearn
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Great Grey Owl hoot  recorded by L.J. Peyton; Northern Hawk Owl solicitation call of juvenile  by G. Vyn; call of Boreal Owl  C. Koenig.
Wind Nature SFX Essentials 4 recorded by Gordon Hempton of QuietPlanet.com.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 BirdNote December 2016 / 2019
ID# owl-06-2013-12-06 owl-06b