Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


How the Boreal Owl Uses Camouflage

i Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images

Boreal owls (Aegolius funereus) are prevalent in many regions across the planet, specifically Asia, North America and Europe. They can be found in diverse nations such as the Netherlands, China, Turkey and Canada. They are notably small owls, although the girls are markedly bigger than the boys. Boreal owls smartly use their camouflage to hunt -- and also to avoid being hunted.

Boreal Owl Background

Mature boreal owls typically are between 9 and 10 inches in length, with wingspans of roughly 21 inches. Their plumage is deep brown on top and lighter brown on the bottom. Their faces feature white markings, as well. Boreal owls lack ear tufts. They live independent lives. They're at their busiest during the night, but also are occasionally out and about at daybreak and twilight. They reside in boreal forests, in line with their handles.

Staying Low-Key to Predators

The coloring of boreal owl plumage enables them to easily match their living environments -- typically woodlands packed full of birch, poplar, aspen or spruce trees. Their white and brown feathers are hard to spot amidst all of the trees that surround them. They employ their handy camouflage benefits as a means of staying barely visible to any predators that might be nearby. Hawks are some of their most prominent threats, as are fellow owls. Mammals such as squirrels and martens also occasionally make meals out of boreal owls. Martens focus heavily on eggs, youngsters and mother owls in nests. Squirrels frequently go after their eggs.

Hunting Advantage

Boreal owls also take advantage of their convenient camouflage while hunting for food. They look for food by resting on tree limbs. Boreal owls use their ears to pick up on the activities of prey animals underneath them. Once they hear the rustling of their next meals, they immediately dive down to snatch them. If boreal owls didn't have camouflage, they couldn't wait for prey on branches without going noticed. When it's time to eat, boreal owls look for bugs, birds and wee mammals like chipmunks, shrews and voles.

Camouflage Works on Humans

Sightings of boreal owls by human beings are few and far between. Not only are they nocturnal, they're also highly clandestine in nature. They typically use daylight as a time to rest. If you're ever in a forest that's home to boreal owls, there's a good chance you won't see any of them. While they are equipped with camouflage, their bodies are also usually tucked away under thick cover.