No owl builds its own nest. Canada's best-known owl, the great horned (Bubo virginianus), usually appropriates the discarded nest of a red-tailed hawk. Great horned owls will also use an artificial platform or even a ledge in a barn. The latter is the usual nesting place of the barn owl (Tyto alba), a species restricted to southern parts of Ontario and BC. The large, reclusive great gray owl (Strix nebulosa) of the BOREAL FOREST prefers a northern goshawk nest in a larch swamp.
The crow-sized, long-eared owl (Asio otus) takes over nests of the common crow or black-billed magpie. The short-eared owl (A. flammeus), present transcontinentally, and the snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca), restricted in summer to the arctic TUNDRA, both nest on the ground. The burrowing owl (Speotyto cunicularia) of the western provinces occupies badger holes underground. The barred owl (Strix varia) of the southern boreal forest fringe prefers a broken-off, balsam poplar trunk, and the rare spotted owl (S. occidentalis) of southern BC uses a large tree cavity or cliff crevice.
Smaller owls, such as the northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) and eastern and western screech owls (Otus asio and O. kennicottii) of the deciduous woods of southern Canada, the northern pygmy (Glaucidium gnoma) and flammulated owls (O. flammeolus) of BC, and the boreal (A. funereus) and northern hawk owls (Surnia ulula) of the boreal forest, all nest in woodpeckers' holes in hollow trees.
Author C. STUART HOUSTON
Links to Other Sites
Information about the natural history of the burrowing owl. From Environment Canada.
See a description of the natural history and typical habitat of the Snowy Owl in Canada. From the "Hinterland Who's Who" website. Also includes video clips, summaries of related conservation issues, and educational resources.
Great Horned Owl
See a natural history of the regal-looking Great Horned Owl, one of Canada’s most commn large birds of prey. From the "Hinterland Who's Who" website.
Endangered Species in Endangered Spaces
An informative website about rare and endangered plants and animals in the Thompson-Okanagan region of British Columbia. Click on the menu at the left side of the page for information about specific species. From the Royal British Columbia Musuem.
All About Birds
Search this online bird identification guide for information on specific bird species found in North America. Click on the dynamic map of eBird sightings for a magnified view. From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the US.
This section of the Bird Studies Canada website features Barn Owl biology and details about the Barn Owl Recovery Project.
Species at Risk Public Registry
A searchable database of Canadian species at risk. Provides illustrated natural histories of each species as well as information about recovery programs, a glossary, and more. From Environment Canada.