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.
Most active at dusk and dawn, but also during the daytime. Not normally active at night.
Eurasian Pygmy Owls are expressive birds – When excited, one will cock its tail, flicking it from side to side. When angry, the feathers of the body and head are raised, and when frightened, they are held tightly against the upright body. Flight is woodpecker-like and undulating over a distance.
Listen to the sound of Eurasian Pygmy Owl
[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/STRIGIFORMES/Strigidae/sounds/Eurasian Pygmy Owl.mp3]
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||34||cm||wingspan max.:||36||cm|
|size min.:||15||cm||size max.:||19||cm|
|incubation min.:||28||days||incubation max.:||30||days|
|fledging min.:||27||days||fledging max.:||30||days|
Prefers semi-open mature forest with clearings. Nest sites are often surrounded by moist or swampy terrain, with a water source and groups of younger spruces nearby.
Nest sites are normally cavities produced by the Great Spotted or Three-toed Woodpecker. The tree will usually be coniferous, but also birch and beech. They will also take to nest boxes. If the female accepts the nest hole, she stays near it, or visits it at dusk, and is fed by the male.
The pair will clean the nest cavity before the female lays 3-8 white eggs at 2 day intervals. Pygmy Owls are one of the few species that don’t start incubation until the last egg is laid. The female alone incubates the eggs for 28-29 days, only leaving briefly in the evening or morning to be fed by the male. She will often enlarge the nest cavity using her bill to tear small chips from the inner wall.
Young hatch almost all at the same time, and are brooded by the female for 9-10 days. By this stage, their eyes will be open. The male continues to bring food, which the female collects and takes back to the young. At about 3 weeks, the nestlings start to look out of the nest hole, and the female will only enter the cavity to feed them or remove waste. The young leave the nest at 30-34 days – the entire brood usually taking a period of 3-4 days to leave. They are fed by the female for about a week after leaving the nest, and then the male will share the duties for a time, and then will look after them himself (while the female leaves to molt) for 4-6 weeks, after which they begin to disperse. The young are able to reproduce at about 9-10 months old, and are fully mature at about 1 year.
Small birds make up much of a Pygmy Owl’s diet – Thrushes, Crossbills, Chaffinches, Leaf Warblers, and Pied Flycatchers being common prey. They also take birds approaching their own size, such as the Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush or Hawfinch. Small mammals are also important food, especially voles, mice and shrews. Other prey taken include small lizards, bats, fish, and insects.
Food is often cached in tree holes, or on branches. This occurs more often in Winter.
Video Eurasian Pygmy Owl
Glaucidium passerinum is a widespread resident across much of northern and parts of
central Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Its European
breeding population is relatively small (<110,000 pairs), but was stable between 1970- 1990. Although the key population in Russia declined during 1990-2000, the species was stable or increased across the rest of its European range?including sizeable populations in Norway, Sweden and Finland?and probably remained stable overall.
This small owl inhabits coniferous forests in boreal regions of Eurasia, from Scandinavia to Sakhalin. Isolated populations also inhabit the mountainous regions of central Europe (the Alps, the Carpathians and northern Greece). It is sedentary. The population of the European Union (12 Member States) is difficult to estimate but does not exceed 1000 breeding pairs. The total European population is estimated at 31000 pairs, the Russian population not included