Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Glaucidium passerinum
Eurasian Pygmy-Owl


Distinguishing Features - Male - length: 15.2 - 17 cm; weight: 50 - 65 g. Female - length: 17.4 - 19 cm; weight: 67 - 77 g. Colouration: primarily dark rufescent to greyish-brown, above spotted whitish, below streaked brown and off-white. The sides of the breast are mottled brown. There is a prominent, white half-collar around the back of the neck. The tail is brown to grey-brown with 5 narrow, whitish bars. The head is round and there are no ear tufts. The facial disk is not well defined, the face being whitish, with small brown markings, mainly in the form of 2 or 3 broken, concentric rings around each yellow eye. The Bill is yellowish, as are the bare parts of the feathered toes. Legs are also feathered, claws are dark horn with blackish tips.


Eurasian Pygmy-Owl Central and Northern Europe, Scandinavia eastward to Siberia. Adults are generally resident, but may move to lower altitudes (south) in severe winters. Immatures tend to move about in fall and winter, and have been seen as far west as Britain. Mainly a dweller in coniferous forests of the boreal zone and corresponding montane coniferous and mixed forest in higher mountains. Prefers semi-open mature forest with clearings. Nest sites are often surrounded by moist or swampy terrain, with a water source and groups of younger spruces nearby.

Sub-species are:

Glaucidium passerinum passerinum - Central and North Europe, east to Yenisei, Siberia.
Glaucidium passerinum orientale - East Siberia, Manchuria, Sakhalin, and North China.


Primarily small birds - thrushes, warblers and flycatchers; also birds approaching their own size - woodpeckers, song Thrushes or hawfinch; often small mammals - voles, mice and shrews; occasionally small lizards, bats, fish, and insects.


Eurasian Pygmy Owls are a demonstrative species. If excited, it will cock its tail, flicking it from side to side; if angry, the feathers of the body and head are raised, and when frightened, they are held tightly against the upright body.

Nest sites are normally cavities produced by the Great Spotted or Three-toed Woodpecker. The tree will usually be coniferous, but also birch and beech. They will also take to nest boxes.

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