Northern Pygmy-Owl

Glaucidium gnoma

This small (Robin-sized) owl is a daytime hunter. We sometimes can find these birds by the fuss raised by the neighborhood birds (called ‘mobbing’). And it is with good reason, as 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 interior highlands of northern Mexico.
  • G. g. californicum lives in British Columbia, Alberta, and western USA (Nevada, 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, 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.

Click map markers to reveal further information