This is a charming small owl of the Arctic forest all round the North Pole (it is called the Boreal Owl in North America). It is roughly the same size as the Little Owl - familiar to most Europeans. It is pale underneath and blotched brown above - white facial disc in a rather larger head.
As so often this is a small mammal feeder - who would be a vole or mouse! There are some populations in the higher mountains South of the taiga forest in Europe and Asia - notably the Alps, Tatra and Caucasus. A handful have turned up in Britain when small mammal populations in the breeding area have crashed and the owls have been forced to erupt (flee their normal breeding areas).
The calls of this bird can be heard a long way away in the Arctic night - they start with about a dozen 'bo' calls - lasting about three seconds - and then settle down to five or six in 1.5 second bursts.
The little owl of the Arctic.
Length 250 mm Closed wing 170 mm Weight 140 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead