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Species Guide
A photo of a Austral Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium nana)
Austral Pygmy Owl

Austral Pygmy Owl

Glaucidium nana

The Austral Pygmy Owl, Glaucidium nana, is a diminutive raptor with a length ranging from 17 to 21 cm (6.7 to 8.3 in). Exhibiting sexual dimorphism, males tip the scales at a modest 56 to 75 g (2.0 to 2.6 oz), while females are slightly heavier, weighing in at 70 to 100 g (2.5 to 3.5 oz). This species comes in two primary color morphs, gray-brown and red, with variations in between.

Identification Tips

Adults of both morphs present a pale grayish brown face adorned with dark flecks and contrasting whitish "brows" above their pale yellow eyes. A distinctive feature is the black "false eyes" on the nape, which can be quite striking. The gray-brown morph is characterized by dark grayish brown upperparts peppered with whitish dots and a similarly colored tail with narrow buffy bars. The underparts are off-white with dark grayish brown streaks. The red morph replaces the dark grayish brown with a more reddish hue but maintains a similar pattern.


The Austral Pygmy Owl is an adaptable bird, found in a variety of settings from urban parks and farmland with scattered trees to dense deciduous forests and evergreen shrublands. It also thrives in temperate and southern beech (Nothofagus) forests, as well as the Patagonian scrub/steppe.


This species is native to the southern reaches of South America, specifically from Valparaíso Province in Chile and Neuquén Province in western Argentina, extending all the way to the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego. In Chile, it can be found from sea level up to elevations of 2,000 m (6,600 ft).


The Austral Pygmy Owl is primarily diurnal but does not shy away from nocturnal activity. It is a solitary predator, adept at sallying from perches to snatch up a variety of prey, including insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Remarkably, it has been known to capture birds nearly twice its own weight.

Song & calls

This owl has a repertoire of five primary vocalizations. It maintains contact with its mate through a rapid whistle of 6 to 7 notes per second, described as "huj-huj-huj-huj-huj-huj." Its territorial call is a sharp trill, reminiscent of "truie-truie-yi-yi." Nestlings communicate with soft metallic chirps, "trigigigirrr" or "trigigick." During courtship, both sexes emit a whistling "tiririi-tiririi," and they also produce an undefined call noted as "diud" or "diuh."


Nesting typically occurs in tree cavities, although the Austral Pygmy Owl has also been known to use holes in earthen banks. The breeding season sees a clutch of three to five eggs laid between September and November, with the female solely responsible for incubation.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Austral Pygmy Owl as Least Concern. Although its exact population numbers are not known, it is reported to be the most abundant owl in Chile. However, in agricultural areas, it faces persecution due to superstitions surrounding its nocturnal calls.

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Austral Pygmy Owls on Birda


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Aegolius acadicus
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