Birding the Tagus and the Alentejo
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(Northern) Hawk Owl Surnia ulula
L. 35-43 cm, WS 69-82 cm. Mainly resident in boreal forests, often in upper tree zone on mountainous slopes (mixed conifers and birch), preferring vicinity of bog, meadow or clearfell. Fluctuating numbers, some years locally fairly common. In some autumns considerable numbers move south. About five records in Britain in 20th Century. Partly diurnal. Food voles (main prey, taken on ground after watch from treetop) and birds (e.g. thrushes; capable of catching prey as large as Willow Grouse). Nests in tree-hole ('chimney' or vertical) or abandoned raptor's nest. Caution: Can fiercely attack intruders when young leave nest; do not go near, and keep your eyes fixed on parents while in sight of young just out of a nest!