|Conservation status||Generally uncommon, but widespread; no evidence of general declines.|
|Habitat||Open coniferous or mixed woods, wooded canyons. Found in a wide variety of forest types, including open oak groves, sycamores in canyons, pine-oak woodland, coniferous forest of far north and high mountains. Generally in partly open habitats rather than solid unbroken forest.|
Hunts most actively near dawn and dusk, but also at other times. Watches for prey from a perch, then makes very rapid pursuit flight.
3-4, sometimes 2-7. White. Incubation apparently is by female only, about 28 days. Young: Both parents take part in providing food for young, with male bringing much of prey, female feeding it to young. Female may roost in nest hole with young at first. Age of young at first flight about 27-28 days.
Both parents take part in providing food for young, with male bringing much of prey, female feeding it to young. Female may roost in nest hole with young at first. Age of young at first flight about 27-28 days.
Includes rodents, birds, insects, lizards. Diet varies with location and season. Rodents such as voles and mice are often major prey, also catches mammals as large as gophers and squirrels. During warm weather, eats many large insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, beetles. Small songbirds are sometimes up to one-third of diet. In southern parts of range, may catch many lizards.
Some birds defend territories all year; in breeding season, pairs defend very large nesting territories. Courtship displays at dusk may involve rapid aerial chases through the trees near potential nest sites. In courtship on perch, male feeds female. Nest site is in cavity in tree, either in natural hollow or (perhaps more often) in abandoned woodpecker hole, and usually 8-25' above ground.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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No regular migration, but may wander away from breeding areas in fall and winter, including some downslope movement by mountain birds.
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Songs and CallsA series of mellow whistles on 1 pitch. Also a thin rattle around the nest.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Northern Pygmy-Owl
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
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Climate threats facing the Northern Pygmy-Owl
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.