Sunday, 19 October 2014

Eurasian pygy-owl

Glaucidium passerinum

Photo by Lars Petersson (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Eurasian pygmy-owl (en); mocho-pigmeu (pt); chevêchette d'Europe (fr); mochuelo chico (es); sperlingskauz (de)

Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

This species is found in central and northern Europe, from north-eastern France and northern Italy north to northern Scandinavia and east through Romania, the Ukraine and the middle latitudes of Russia into central Asia as far as the Pacific Ocean. Also in northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia and north-eastern China.

These birds are 15-19 cm long and have a wingspan of 32-39 cm. Males are smaller than females, weighing 47-65 g while the females weigh 67-77 g.

The Eurasian pygmy-owl is mostly found in coniferous and mixed forests, in the taiga and in temperate areas, also using scrublands, marshes and bogs. They occur at altitudes of 250-2.150 m.

They feed mainly on voles, also taking other small mammals such as mice and shrews, small birds such as finches, thrushes, warblers and flycatchers, small lizards, bats, fishes and insects.

Eurasian pygmy-owls breed in April-July. They are monogamous and may sometimes pair for more than one season. The nest in tree cavities, mainly old woodpecker nests, also using nest boxes. The female lays 3-8 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 28-30 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 30-34 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 5-7 weeks later. They reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 300.000-1.500.000 individuals. The population is suspected to fluctuate over time owing to fluctuations in rodent prey populations and weather conditions.

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