Northern Pygmy-Owl

Range Map
Glaucidium gnoma

This small robin-sized owl is a daytime hunter. We can sometimes find these birds by the fuss raised by the alarmed neighborhood birds, a practice called mobbing. And it is with good reason, because these owls often prey on small birds. The Northern Pygmy-Owl lacks the highly developed hearing of most owls, which may explain its reputation as a daytime hunter. These small raptors are fearless and often take prey up to three times their own size.

We can find these fierce hunters in habitats ranging from deciduous bottomlands to high-elevation coniferous forests.

Modern science recognises seven subspecies of Northern Pygmy-Owl:

  • G. g. gnoma lives in southeastern Arizona and south through the interior highlands of northern Mexico.
  • G. g. californicum lives in British Columbia, Alberta, and in western USA in Nevada and southern California, and northwestern Mexico.
  • G. g. grinnelli lives in southeastern Alaska south through coastal British Columbia to the Pacific northwestern USA.
  • G. g. swarthi lives in Vancouver (Canada).
  • G. g. pinicola lives in the western USA (Idaho, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado).
  • G. g. hoskinsii lives in southern Baja California.
  • G. g. cobanense lives in Guatemala and Honduras.

To date, my only meetings with this species came on the Eel River in the Redwood forests of northern California.

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