Northern Pygmy-Owls at Maclay Flat

On Wednesday, January 11, 2023, I went birding with Lucy, Papa, and Tyler at Maclay Flat. Only 2 seconds after exiting the car, all of us were staring at a northern pygmy-owl that had posted up on a small conifer next to the entrance of the trails. After about thirty pictures or so, we moved on. As I was the one to spot the owl it was my responsibility to alert other people. One of the first people we met was a little kid and his mom taking their dog for a walk. Once we told the mom about the owl, the little kid said that it was probably a saber-toothed tiger! We all found that very funny! Further down the trail Tyler spotted another pygmy owl. It was nestled in a cottonwood to the right of the trail. We returned to the parking lot to find that the pygmy owl hadn’t moved for an hour and a half!

Northern Pygmy-Owl


Identification. Around 7″ long, the Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium californicum) has a white belly with distinctive black streaks running vertically through it. It has a brown head, wings, and tail. Bright yellow eyes with black pupils are located near the beak (the beak of the pygmy-owl in the picture above has a slightly bloody beak) which is peachy colored.

Habitat and region. Pygmy owls are found in coniferous forests and river bottoms throughout the western U.S. and Canada. Their range also enters Mexico.

Calls. Call is a series of short whistled toots, often followed by a trill. Although these little owls are mainly diurnal, calls are often heard from evening to dawn.

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