Northern Pygmy Owls are found in Alaska, British Columbia, California, Arizona, and the northern areas of Mexico. They’re small, standing between 6 and 7 inches tall and weighing only 2-2.5 ounces. Their wingspans are around 15 inches. Females will be larger than males.1
However, although these owls are small, they’re fierce hunters that can take down prey three times their size. They tend to focus on songbirds for their prey and often get mobbed by songbirds like wrens, jays, and blackbirds.2
These birds are active during the day and are patient predators that will wait until the right moment and then take down their prey. Other than songbirds, these owls will take down voles, mice, chipmunks, rabbits, weasels, and insects. Sometimes they may take amphibians or reptiles.3
Something that makes these birds stand out is the fact that they don’t have asymmetrical ears or flattened facial discs around the eyes like many other owl species do. It’s believed this is because they hunt during the day, and so they aren’t as reliant on hearing to hunt as their nocturnal brethren.2
These birds like to nest in cavities, especially in ones that were made by woodpeckers.1 They don’t tend to like human-made nest boxes.2 When they hunt surplus food, they’ll store it in a cavity, especially during the winter. They’ll store some in the summer, too, but not as much.3
Did you catch our deep dive on Great Gray Owls? Check it out here!