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Species Guide

Central American Pygmy Owl

Glaucidium griseiceps

The Central American pygmy owl, Glaucidium griseiceps, is a diminutive raptor with a length ranging from 13 to 18 cm (5.1 to 7.1 in). The males of the species are slightly lighter, weighing between 50.6 to 58.8 g (1.78 to 2.07 oz), while females average around 56 g (2.0 oz). Adults are characterized by a grayish brown crown adorned with buff to whitish spots and a nape featuring dark "false eyes." Their upperparts and tail are a rich brown, with the tail displaying pale bars. The underparts are a contrasting whitish with reddish brown streaks. Juveniles can be distinguished by their gray crown and nape, the former lacking spots and the latter presenting sooty false eyes.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Central American pygmy owl, look for the distinctive false eyes on the nape, which are a key feature of this species. The combination of the spotted crown, barred tail, and streaked underparts are also indicative of this owl.


This species thrives in a variety of environments, including lowland and foothill humid tropical evergreen forests, secondary forests, semi-open areas, and mature cacao plantations.


The Central American pygmy owl has a broad range, extending from southern Mexico through Central America into northwestern Colombia, with a disjunct population in northwestern Ecuador. Its presence is noted from sea level up to 1,300 m (4,300 ft) in elevation, depending on the region.


Although primarily nocturnal, the Central American pygmy owl is known to hunt during the day as well. Its secretive nature and small size make it a challenge to observe in the wild.

Song & calls

The vocal repertoire of this owl includes a song that starts with 2-4 evenly spaced hoots, followed by a brief pause and then a series of 6-18 similar notes, producing a "huu-huu, huu-huu-huu…" pattern. Trills may sometimes precede the main song.


Little is known about the breeding habits of the Central American pygmy owl. Reports suggest that it lays clutches of two to four eggs in April and May, utilizing natural cavities or old woodpecker holes as nesting sites.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Central American pygmy owl is not well-documented but is believed to include large insects, other invertebrates, and small vertebrates such as lizards, birds, and mammals.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Central American pygmy owl as Least Concern, with a population that is presumed to be stable, though the exact numbers are currently unknown.

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Central American Pygmy Owls on Birda

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Profile picture for Ry Gray
Ry Gray
13 Apr 2024 - 2:32pm
Costa Rica

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