Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

As its name would suggest, the northern pygmy owl, Glaucidium gnoma, is a notably small owl, comparable in size to most sparrows. It is found in western North America, from southern Canada to Central America, in many types of woodland habitat. In Utah, it is not commonly encountered, but occurs statewide in forests and woodlands.

The northern pygmy owl preys mainly on small rodents, often hunting during daylight hours, especially at dawn and dusk. It also occasionally eats insects and small birds. Northern pygmy owls inhabit and lay eggs in natural tree cavities and old woodpecker holes in tree trunks, but do not construct nests within these cavities. The female typically lays four to six eggs and incubates them for 28 days. During the incubation period, the male supplies the female with food. Both parents tend the young for an additional 60 days, although the owlets are able to fly about 30 days after hatching.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.