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.
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Glaucidium albertinum is known from just 3-5 specimens, collected in the Itombwe Mountains (two specimens) and in forest west of Lake Edward (two at relatively low altitude 1100 m and originally identified as G. capense castaneum, may need re-examination), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as in Nyungwe Forest (one), Rwanda. There is also a recent sight record from Kahuzi-Biega National Park, west of Lake Kivu (DRC). It may be fairly common in parts of Itombwe – as a nocturnal species, it may have been under-recorded by past ornithological surveys.