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Species Guide
A photo of a Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum)
Eurasian Pygmy Owl

Eurasian Pygmy Owl

Glaucidium passerinum

The Eurasian pygmy owl, Europe's tiniest owl, is a charming avian with a dark reddish to greyish-brown plumage, adorned with spotted sides. A distinctive feature is the half of a white ring gracing the back of its neck, a subtle yet striking mark.

Identification Tips

To identify this diminutive owl, look for its small, rounded head devoid of ear tufts, which is quite unusual among owls. Its yellow eyes peer out from beneath white to grey eyebrows. The tail is a shade darker than the body, with five narrow, whitish bars. The underparts are mostly white with brown speckles, and the beak is a greyish-yellow, curved into a hook shape. The legs and toes are a brownish-yellow, ending in black talons. Females are slightly larger than males, with a length of 17.4 to 19 cm, while males range from 15.2 to 17 cm.


The Eurasian pygmy owl makes its home in the coniferous forests of the taiga and in higher mountainous regions with coniferous and mixed forests. These habitats are characterized by cooler temperatures and higher rainfall, often with moist or swampy land and a water source nearby.


This species is found across the boreal forests of Northern and Central Europe, extending all the way to Siberia. It is a sedentary bird, with adults typically remaining resident throughout the year, although some may move south during particularly harsh winters.


The Eurasian pygmy owl is crepuscular, most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. It exhibits a remarkable ability to carry prey larger than one might expect, thanks to its disproportionately large feet.

Song & Calls

The male's call is a monotonous series of clear, fluted notes, spaced about two seconds apart, and higher in pitch than the typical owl hoot. The female's call is similar but even higher. Around the mating season, both sexes may produce a rising sequence of five to seven notes.


Pairs form from autumn to early spring, with the male courting the female by leading her through his territory and to a potential nest site, often a former woodpecker hole. The female lays four to seven eggs, which are incubated for about four weeks. Chicks hatch nearly simultaneously and fledge at about 30 to 34 days old.

Diet and Feeding

The Eurasian pygmy owl preys on small mammals like voles and mice, as well as small birds, which it can catch in flight. It also consumes lizards, fish, and insects. Notably, it hoards food in autumn, storing small mammals and birds to supplement its winter diet.

Conservation status

The Eurasian pygmy owl is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of widespread decline.

Eurasian Pygmy Owl Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Eurasian Pygmy Owls on Birda


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