Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum)

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Glaucidium brasilianum | [authority] Gmelin, 1788 | [UK] Ferruginous Pygmy Owl | [FR] Chevechette rousserolle | [DE] Strichelkauz | [ES] Cabure Chico (Arg, Bo), Mochuelo Cabure, Mochuelo Comun (Cr), Buhito Cuatro Ojos (HN) | [NL] Braziliaanse Dwerguil


Monotypic species


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

The Ferruginous Pygmy Owl is small (15cm) and stocky with disproportionately large talons. The upperparts are brown, heavily spotted and/or streaked with white on the crown and wing coverts. The underparts are white, streaked with brown. There are prominent white supercilia above the facial disc. There are two eyespots on the nape. The tail is barred brown and black. Sexes are similar with females slightly larger and more reddish, especially on the brown in the tail. The flight is low to the ground and rapid with long swoops.

Listen to the sound of Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/STRIGIFORMES/Strigidae/sounds/Ferruginous Pygmy Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 35 cm wingspan max.: 38 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 22 cm
incubation min.: 27 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 27 days fledging max.: 28 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Latin America : widespread


Semi-open Woodland,rain forest with dense canopy and more open undergrowth, riparian woodland, thornscrub.


In late in the winter or early spring they begin nesting in the cavities of trees or cacti like the saguaro and organ pipe. These holes have often been made by woodpeckers. They lay 3 to 5 white eggs in late April, which hatch about 28 days later. The young owls are fed by both parents. They fledge, or leave the nest about 27 to 30 days after hatching. They stay close to their parents until they are ready to be on their own.

Feeding habits

Pygmy-owls typically hunt from perches in trees with dense foliage using a perch-and-wait strategy; therefore, sufficient cover must be present within their home range for them to successfully hunt and survive. Pygmy-owls also hunt by inspecting tree and saguaro cavities for other nesting birds, and possibly bats. Their diverse diet includes birds, lizards, insects, and small mammals.

Video Ferruginous Pygmy Owl


copyright: M. Roth


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not 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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not 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.
The Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum) is a small owl that breeds in south-central Arizona in the USA, south through to Mexico, Central America and South America to Bolivia and Argentina. Trinidad, as well as other localities, have endemic subspecies of the owl. The Trinidad version is more rufous above than the continental forms. Recent genetics work has found substantial differences in Ferruginous Pygmy Owls from different regions.
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl status Least Concern


Resident throughout range.

Distribution map

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl distribution range map

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