RESEARCH FOCUS: NORTHERN HAWK OWLS

NORTHERN HAWK OWL RESEARCH PROJECT

Since 1990, there is convincing evidence of over 30 instances of Northern Hawk Owls breeding in Montana. “Convincing evidence” comprises nests, eggs, chicks, or recently branched young. (Note: “Branched” young have limited flight abilities and are still dependent on adults.) Of these instances, most have occurred in Glacier National Park. Two took place in Flathead National Forest, and a few in other, scattered locations in western Montana. From these reports, we have confirmed 14 nest trees. Thirteen nest trees were in Glacier National Park, and 1 in Flathead National Forest. We have banded 56 Northern Hawk Owls since 1994, in FNF and GNP. These data will contribute to understanding a Potential Species of Concern in Montana (Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks).

Northern Hawk Owls are distributed throughout northern North America and northern Europe.  They are associated mostly with spruce forests of low tree density, and often found in boggy-type habitats.  At the southern Limits of their range, they can be found in mixed coniferous forests and recently burned-forests.

When the ORI formally started our Northern Hawk Owl study in 2006, there were seven known nest sites in the lower 48.  We have since added 15 known nest locations and a total of 29 instances of breeding.  We have submitted a manuscript detailing our 10+ years of Northern Hawk Owl research in northwest Montana and look forward to having it published soon.