Pygmy Owl again


The Northern Pygmy Owl is an inconspicuous little owl — at least it is for much of the year. It resides in the uplands where its small size makes it difficult to be found amidst the vastness of all the foliage. 

For a few months in the winter, it might come to the valley bottom where it perches atop trees or on well exposed branches. The key word is might. Some winters it is evident, some it is not. Mind you, it is only about the size of one’s fist, but it is readily visible and not easily spooked by humans. 

This picture was purposely not cropped closely to show that despite its diminutive size, it is easily spotted among the bare branches. Further, it has no particular difficulty in being around people.

This rather odd picture needs an explanation. The pygmy owl has lowered its head as it looks for the antics of some tasty voles below. We see the top of its head and the two fake eyespots on the back of its head.

However, the pride of place goes to this larger-than-life shot of the pygmy owl scratching under its chin. Not only is its claw raised, but its eyes have been covered by the nictitating membrane, a translucent third eyelid present in some animals.  


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9 Responses to Pygmy Owl again

  1. Wolf Willow says:

    These pictures are breathtaking! I can’t imagine how long you sit with your camera ready to catch images like these.

  2. birthe says:

    The only time I’ve seen a pygmy owl was in winter at Kokanee Creek Park. I couldn’t believe that an owl could be that tiny. It was perching on a bare branch actually quite close to the water.
    As usual, thank you Alistair I so enjoy your pictures and informative comments

  3. Mary McQueen says:

    I have never seen this owl before. Such an interesting little fellow. Great pictures and narrative. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Karen Pidcock says:

    The word of my day: nictitating! thanks, Alistair

  5. Pamella Wik says:

    Gorgeous. I saw one here about 2 weeks ago and, yes, it was positioned close to the top of a deciduous.

  6. Sarah says:

    Thanks for these interesting photos of Pygmy owls in poses we don’t often see. I had to spend some time figuring out the 2nd one!

  7. Kathryn says:

    Great photos and commentary Alistair. Owls are on my bucket list!!

  8. Grace says:

    Thanks Alistair! Just want to let you know how much I appreciate your amazing photos and the interesting information you share. Once I spotted this miniature owl on the dog walk along the airport.

  9. Tom says:

    I’ve only seen a pygmy owl once before, alone in a wintery bare aspen by my deck. The tree was full of Evening Grosbeaks that came to my feeders the previous day. Pygmy is small but must be mighty ferocious to frighten away that sizeable flock. Fabulous pictures Alistair.

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