Northern Pygmy-Owl

Glaucidium gnoma




Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

2 - 7

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

15 - 40 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

In old woodpecker hole and dead tree cavities.





Northern Pygmy-Owl: Small owl with upperparts and sides that range from plain brown to white-spotted gray-brown or gray. Underparts are white with thick brown stripes. Head is brown or gray with fine white spots; lacks ear tufts. Eyes are yellow with distinct white eyebrows. White-bordered black spots on back of head resemble an extra pair of eyes. Sexes are similar.

Range and Habitat

Northern Pygmy-Owl: This species is a resident along the Pacific coast from extreme southern Alaska south to Central America. It is also found along the Rocky Mountains from Idaho south to central Mexico. Its preferred habitats include open coniferous and mixed forests, open fields, wetlands, and logged areas.

Breeding and Nesting

Northern Pygmy-Owl: Two to seven white eggs are laid in a nest built in an old woodpecker hole, usually in a conifer. Eggs are incubated for 29 days by the female; male brings her food while on the nest.

Foraging and Feeding

Northern Pygmy-Owl: Prey consists of birds, such as swallows, jays, and chickadees, and mammals, such as shrews, moles, and chipmunks; a predominantly sit-and-wait predator that hunts by day.


Northern Pygmy-Owl: Primary call of the male is a series of repetitive, whistled hoots "too-too-too-too-too-too-too", given at intervals of one to two seconds; also makes a high whinny when bringing food to his mate. Female has a cackling call. Other calls include an ascending staccato series of whistles; when excited, may emit a high-pitched trill.

Similar Species

Northern Pygmy-Owl: Ferruginous Owl has a rufous tail with dark bars and brown streaks on underparts. Elf Owl is smaller, has a shorter tail, lacks eyespots on nape, and has faint streaks on underparts.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X