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explore Raptors

Northern Pygmy-Owl

Northern Pygmy-Owl

Scientific Name:

Glaucidium gnoma

Population Status:

Least Concern

Body Length:

6-7 inches

Wingspan:

12 inches

Weight:

2 ounces

What makes a raptor a raptor?

Did you know?

  • Unlike hawks, falcons, and eagles, owls do not have an expandable part of the esophagus, called a crop, to store extra food. Therefore, owls will cache uneaten prey in a hiding place and eat it later. This is especially important for small, high-energy species that must eat frequently.
  • Since Northern Pygmy-Owls are active during daylight, they rely on their sense of sight to hunt. Consequently, they did not develop the good hearing, silent flight, and exceptional night vision that nocturnal owls have.

Where they live

Northern Pygmy-Owls are found in western North America and Central America.

Why they need our help

Their population status is not well-studied but they are not believed to be declining.

What they eat

Their diet consists mainly of small birds and rodents and large insects. Occasionally, they will eat reptiles and amphibians. They hunt during the day and at dusk and dawn. They search for prey from a perch, pouncing on it from a close distance when prey is found.

Nest, eggs and young

Females usually lay 3-5 eggs in tree cavities. Unlike most owls, which start incubating the eggs soon after the first eggs are laid, the Northern Pygmy-Owl does not start incubation until all the eggs have been laid. About 29 days later, all the chicks hatch within a short time of each other. The young fledge at 30 days and are independent of parental care in 20-30 days. They are able to reproduce in less than a year.

Photo gallery

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