The Northern Hawk Owl was on my bucket list for ever, to me it is one of the coolest looking raptors on the planet. I could not believe my luck, I had just spent all day looking for this guy. I had done all of my research, I know the general area it was, the area was a boggy area that was approximately 20 square miles. I was on my way back to my car, feeling like I struck out again. When you have been chasing Owls for as long as I have you come up empty more times that you sight them. Even when you spot one, sometimes they are buried in brush and you don't get any great shots. With the Northern Hawk Owl I have never even seen one in the wild. The photo gods smiled upon me right in sight of my car perch in a pine tree was this little beauty. I setup my shot and lock in my focus and it flushes out, I was in awe of this little guy. To my amazement it lands 20 feet from me in a small tree that was about 8 feet high. I could not breath until I got a burst off, it stayed for less than 5 minutes and took off after some Snow Buntings that were all over. It was well worth the 3 1/2 hour drive and the 6 hours of searching, for 5 minutes of the coolest looking bird on the planet in my opinion.
The Northern Hawk Owl is a medium-sized owl with a long tapered tail and short pointed wings. It has a white face with a black border, its forehead is dark with alot of white spots. Its chest is white with heavy brown bars. Rather hawk like in both appearance and behavior, it often hunts by day. Going from tree to tree, it flies fast and low, swinging up at the last moment to alight on the topmost twigs. The occasional Hawk Owl that wanders into the northeastern United States in winter may remain for weeks, attracting birders from far and wide.
The Hawk Owl hunts mostly by day, or at dawn and dusk. Watches for prey from a prominent raised perch, often moving from one hunting perch to another; when prey is spotted, attacks in very fast flight.They may sometimes locate prey by sound alone, plunging into snow to catch unseen rodents. Their diet consists mostly of rodents. Especially in summer, eats mostly voles, mice; also some small squirrels, weasels, shrews. Also eats small birds, especially in winter. May take insects, frogs, even small fish at times