Hawk owl

(Surnia ulula)




Facts about this animal

The Hawk Owl is a medium-sized owl with a body lenght of 36-41 cm. The head is dark brown, barred in white. The facial disc it white with distinct dark brown bands above the eyes and along the sides of the head. Upper parts of the body are dark brown, fading to grey-brown spotted and barred in white. The wings are spotted. Under parts are white and barred in grey-brown. The tail is dark brown and barred in white. The bill and the iris of the eyes are yellow. The sexes are alike in appearance.

It is one of the most diurnal owls. Its name refers to its likeness to a hawk, both in appearance and behaviour.

Did you know?
that population size and breeding success depends highly on food supply? In years of abundant prey the Hawk owl can bring up quite a lot of chicks whereas in years with few prey they often don't breed at all. Although not migratory it may happen that they travel south if prey is scarce.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Surnia ulula
Name (English) Hawk owl
Name (French) Chouette épervière
Name (German) Sperbereule
Name (Spanish) Lechuza gavilana
Local names Finnish: Hiiripöllö
Norwegian: Haukugle
Swedish: Hökuggla
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
BS Thurner Hof



Range Eurasia and North America. Asia: China; Kazakhstan; Mongolia. Europe: Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; Norway; Russian Federation; Slovakia; Sweden; vagrants in several other countries and regionally extinct in Latvia. North America:Canada; United States.
Habitat Boreal forests.
Wild population The global population is roughly estimated to be 130,000 individuals (Partners in flight 2008).
Zoo population 106 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Hawk owl


How this animal should be transported

Owls travel best in completely dark boxes. Boxes should be slightly longer than the head to tail length of the bird intended to travel, and wide and high enough for the bird to be able to stand or lie down in comfort without banging its shoulders or head. A well made wooden box with no perches is required, with carpet or some other non slip surface fixed on the floor and a padded ceiling, with air-holes on either side. The easiest type of door to use is an upward sliding door at one end. The door can then be slid up a small amount; the bird visualised before being grasped by the legs, carefully, through the small opening before sliding the door fully open for removal. A handle fixed to the top of the box makes carrying easier.

For air transport, Container Note 20 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
BS Thurner Hof

Why do zoos keep this animal

The hawk owl is not a globally threatened species and zoos keep it primarily for educational reasons. Hawk owls are predominantly diurnal and theredore particularly suitable for public display.