Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl

Glaucidium costaricanum
Population status:
Least Concern
Body length:
14.5-17 cm (5.7-6.7 in)
53-99 g (1.8-3.5 oz)
Costa Rican Pygmy Owl

Henry Fallas Gutiérrez

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Did You Know?

  • Biologists still have so much to learn about the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl's diet, breeding, and behavior!
  • This owl presents in two different color morphs -  brown and a rufous. 

Other Owls

How The Peregrine Fund is Helping

Though The Peregrine Fund doesn't work directly with Swallow-tailed Kites, our efforts in scientific research, habitat conservation, education, and community development help conserve raptors on a global scale. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation. We also support the Neotropical Raptor Network - a group that helps conserve birds of prey by improving communication and collaboration among raptor enthusiasts throughout the region!

Where They Live

The Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl is found only in the highland regions of Costa Rica and western Panama, in Central America. It seems to hunt, nest, and roost in montane forests. However, so little is known about this species, it is possible that it can be found in other habitat types. 

What They Do

This small owl is partially diurnal - it is active during the day as well as at night. Like other pygmy-owls, the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl has two false "eye spots" on the back of its head. These are darker colored feathers that look a bit like eyes. These eye spots might help confuse predators trying to sneak up on the owl. 

These owls real eyes are bright yellow. 

Why They Need our Help

 The Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl is classified as a species of Least Concern, mainly because its population appears to be relatively stable. However, there is so much we don't know about this species, that it could be facing greater threats than we are aware of. 

What They Eat

Scientists are still trying to learn more about what the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl eats. We know they likely eat a lot of arthropods and small vertebrates, based on their size and the diets of other pygmy-owls. Researchers have also been able to observe this species capturing birds and lizards. But, apart from that, not much else is known. 

Nests, Eggs, and Young

After reading the rest of this species account, it probably won't surprise you to learn that scientists know very little about the nests, eggs, or young of the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl. Here is what we do know: 1) it usually nests in tree cavities, often in holes created by woodpeckers, 2) researchers discovered a nest that contained three eggs. And that's about it! This species would be a wonderful study subject for someone who loves owls and the Neotropics. 

Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl and the World Center for Birds of Prey

Though we don't have any pygmy-owls on our avian ambassador team, a visit to The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey will afford you an opportunity to meet Rusty, our Eastern Screech-Owl, and Winston, our Western Screech-Owl. They are often out greeting visitors during bird presentations and sit comfortably on their handlers' gloves, which allows you to get a close up view of these exceptionally cute raptors.

Additionally, the World Center for Birds of Prey offers fun ways to learn about birds of prey. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room feature activities from coloring sheets to quizzes to costumes. There is also a touch table with owl feathers and other natural objects for exploration.


Schulenberg, T. S. (2020). Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium costaricanum), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.