Northern Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium gnoma)

The Northern Pygmy Owl is Canada's smallest owl species and North America's second smallest (only the Elf Owl is smaller). Pygmy Owls are diurnal hunters that feed predominently on small birds such as sparrows. Their body shape and frame is similar to that of the Northern Hawk Owl, a fairly closely related species. Pygmies are masters of aerial maneuvering. Pygmy Owls have a false set of eyes on the back of their heads made up of a combination of black and white feathers. This is called an "occipital face". The "eyes" are thought to keep predators from sneaking up on the owls.

The typical Northern Pygmy Owl vocalization consists of a short series of toots or a single toot repeated every 10 seconds or more.

The Owl Foundation used to receive injured Pygmy Owls when rehabiliation of raptors was less common throughout the provinces. As rehab centres multiplied, TOF was refuge to fewer and fewer of the western Canadian owl species. As a result, we currently house only two Northern Pygmy Owls.


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Owl vocalizations recorded by Kara Kristjanson.
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