Pygmy-owl, but which one?

No bird photos on this one, but here’s the habitat.

The section to the right of the eucalyptus trees is where the pygmy-owl appeared.

The section to the right of the eucalyptus trees is where the pygmy-owl appeared.

Occasionally there is a grand hubbub in the garden as every bird in the vicinity gathers to harass an owl that has dared to stay awake too long. Such was the case this morning, but disaster has struck my binoculars and one barrel remains completely fogged up. I was nonetheless able to catch a glimpse of a brown pygmy-owl in bright sunshine at 6.30 am. On the grounds of distribution it should be the brown morph of the Costa Rican Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium costaricanum), but unfortunately I cannot claim it as a life bird because the Ferruginous Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum) is also found here at the eastern end of its Costa Rican range. Moreover, the Ferruginous prefers the more open habitat that we have here, while the Costa Rican likes thicker forest. I have in fact seen and heard the Ferruginous at Barbilla National Park, even further east than here, so I remain very unsure of today’s bird. I saw a similar bird here at night a couple of years back. Like today’s bird, it was not calling, though a Tropical screech-owl call was frequent that night.

Coincidentally, and just two days earlier, friend Angela Tuzo reported a Costa Rican Pygmy-owl from La Suiza. However, La Suiza is down in the valley at about 700 m, where the Central American Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium griceiceps) seems much more likely.

As an aside, I must mention that one of the many birds that showed up to mob the owl was the Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens), a rare migrant, which has now been close to the house since late October. Must be the same individual.

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