Northern Pygmy-Owl
Glaucidium gnoma
The Northern Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma) ranges from southern Alaska all the way to the Honduras. In the U.S., it is a western species and inhabits montane forests along the coast as well as the interior Rockies. Birds from Arizona southward typically give a series of double-noted "hoots" while those farther north give a single hoot repeated every three to five seconds. The individual in the first seven images on this page was photographed in May, 1999, near Ellensburg, Kittitas Co., Washington with a Canon EOS A2 and EF 300 F4L IS & 1.4X extender on Fuji Sensia 100 pushed one stop. Fill flash was also used and the camera was hand held on a BushHawk shoulder mount. This individual was hunting near dusk and came within 15 feet of the observers on several occasions seemingly oblivious to us.
Shortly before the following photos were taken, the bird had plunged into the damp grass nearby, apparently going after a prey item. The wet feathers visible on the breast in several of the shots at right were a result of this hunting activity.
The owl is intently watching the grass below hoping to find a prey item.
The false "eyes" on the back of the head of a Northern Pygmy-Owl are seen in the shot at right. It is thought that these "eyes" prevent a predator from attacking the bird from behind.