Costa Rican Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium costaricanum)

Costa Rican Pygmy Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Glaucidium costaricanum | [authority] Robbins and Stiles, 1999 | [UK] Costa Rican Pygmy Owl | [FR] Chevechette du Costa Rica | [DE] Costa-Rica-Zwergkauz | [ES] Mochuelo Costarricense | [NL] Costa Ricaanse dwerguil


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Glaucidium costaricanum MA Costa Rica, Panama


Members of the genus Glaucidium are very small and tiny owls. They have rounded heads without ear-tufts. Their eyes are yellow. In many species the talons are, in relation to their size, very powerful. The facial disc is not very distinct. Some species have a large dark patch with a pale border on each side of the nape of the neck, looking like false eyes. Many are partly diurnal and sing from exposed perches. These are mostly very tenacious in the hunt, and show little fear, even of approaching humans. Glaucidium is a worldwide genus, containing some 30 species. Most of the Asian species, and some of the African species show physical and behavioural differences that suggest they might be better placed in Athene, and DNA evidence suggests that there is only a distant relationship between the Old World Pygmy Owls and those of the New World.

Physical charateristics

It is found in both brown and rufous morphs although the brown morph is most common. Similar in appearance to the Mountain Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma) yet slightly smaller and in the brown phase it has stronger markings, darker upper parts and a slightly lighter, heavily spotted crown. The rufous phase has much sparser buffy spotting with some birds nearly unspotted. It has the classic pygmy-owl black “eyespot” trimmed with white on its hindneck; white belly streaked with black; white eyebrows and lores; yellow feet, bill and cere and bright yellow eyes. In the normal phase (brown) its backside is dark brown with buffy white spotting, base color of its head is slightly lighter and has a dark rufous brown, buffy white spotted chest.

Listen to the sound of Costa Rican Pygmy Owl

[audio: Rican Pygmy Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Middle America : Costa Rica, Panama


It inhabits mostly upland forests, often in the canopy and edge of wet forests. It can also be found in semi-open areas adjacent to forests at elevations from 900 m to about 1200 m up.


Breading season is in March and 3 eggs have been reported. It Builds a nest in a tree cavity, probably most often in an old woodpecker hole 2 m above ground.

Feeding habits

It preys largely on other birds. Its diet includes also insects, lizards and other small vertebrates. It perch-hunts, attacking with a swift dash and pounce from usually a place in dense foliage.

Video Costa Rican Pygmy Owl


copyright: Charlotte Elton


Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Costa Rican Pygmy Owl status Least Concern


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Costa Rican Pygmy Owl distribution range map

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