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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M., W. & F. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland), Pohjolan linnut värikuvin. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Pygmy Owl

Glaucidium passerinum

  • Name also: Eurasian Pygmy-owl
  • Family: Owls – Strigidae
  • Appearance: Finland’s smallest owl, only about the size of a Bullfinch. Warm brown upper parts with whitish spots, underparts paler with brown streaks. Smallish head.
  • Size: Length 15–19 cm, wingspan 32–39 cm, weight 47–70 g.
  • Nest: In a hole or nest box.
  • Breeding: 3–8 eggs laid April–May, incubated by female for 28 days. Owlets learn to fly within 30 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in forests almost throughout Finland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 3,500–6,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Some birds are sedentary but others migrate short distances and may be observed in gardens and parks from September until they return to their forest territories in March.
  • Diet: Small mammals and birds. When food is plentiful, may store surplus prey in nest boxes.
  • Calls: Whistling call similar to call of Bullfinch, repeated at intervals of about one second.
  • Endangerment: Near threatened, protected in Finland. Globally Least concern.

Finland’s smallest owl, the Pygmy Owl is only slightly larger than a Bullfinch. Pygmy Owls’ heads are relatively small in proportion to their body size if compared to other owls, and their tails are very short. Their backs and wings are a warm brown colour dotted all over with yellowish white spots. Their underparts are paler with brown streaks. Their faces are marked with concentric dark brown and whitish rings heads and two white eyebrow-like markings. Pygmy Owls legs are covered with feathers, but their talons are dark brown. Their beak and irises are yellow.

Other species from the same family

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