Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Ferruginous Pygmy owl, Glaucidium brasilianum,

Ferruginous Pygmy-owls typically have brown backs and wings with a few white spots. Their heads are lighter in color with white streaks, and they don’t have any ear tufts.

Their eyes are lemon-yellow, like their hooked bills. 

One unique physical feature of the Ferruginous Pygmy-owl is the marking on its nape that resemble eyes. They have two black patches outlined in white on their napes that birders fondly call “false eyes”. They are thought to confuse predators and smaller prey. 

  • Glaucidium brasilianum
  • Length:  6.5 – 7 in (17 – 18 cm)
  • Weight: 2.2 oz (62 g)
  • Wingspan: 15 in (38 cm)


Ferruginous Pygmy-owl are resident all year from South America up to Mexico and into southwestern US states along the border.

Habitat And Diet

You can find the Ferruginous Pygmy-owl on wooded riverbanks in the desert. They prefer habitats with mesquite, live oak trees, and saguaro cacti.

They hunt during the day but are considered crepuscular (active during twilight). They sit and wait at their perch and then swoop in for a quick strike. Usually, they capture insects, birds, rodents, and lizards. 

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls Calls:


Nests of Ferruginous Pygmy-owls are usually in tree cavities like abandoned woodpecker holes. In the absence of woodpecker holes, any natural hole that is roughly ten to thirty feet above ground will do. 

The female lays three to four eggs and incubates them for four weeks. While she’s incubating, the male regularly feeds her. When the eggs hatch, the male will continue to find food to feed both the female and their young.  

Fun Fact:

The Ferruginous Pygmy-owl may be small in size but is considered a dangerous predator because of its oversized feet and talons that allow it to attack animals much larger than itself.