Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum); Mochuelo común; Brasilsperlingskauz; Chevêchette brune

Not easily found in our area, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl has a range in Costa Rica that rarely extends east of San José. Although it has been found previously at Aquiares and occasionally in Turrialba at CATIE, its most recent appearance at Aquiares was still something of a surprise and this sighting most likely will bring confirmation of nesting. Friend Larry Waddell took this first photograph during daylight hours:

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl

Although this tiny owl has been sighted in the Aquiares coffee fields on a few earlier occasions, Larry was further surprised when he was able to confirm a possible nest site. The bird seemed just as surprised as Larry:

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl at possible nest site; photo by Larry Waddell

John also lives not far away and soon got in on the act with some great shots, including this one:

The Aquiares Glaucidium brasilianum individual is still visiting the presumed nesting hole; photo by John Beer

John’s next Ferruginous photo is from a much lower elevation at Peralta, near Turrialba, taken during one of our many excursions to lower sites in our area.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl at nearby Peralta on the Río Reventazón; photo by John Beer

Of the 3 pygmy-owl species found in Costa Rica I have so far encountered mostly brasilianum. However, the only one to appear in my garden in San Antonio has been the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium costaricanum), where it has been mobbed by songbirds on several occasions during daylight hours. This is a highland endemic species whose range is generally restricted to elevations above 1200 metres. Furthermore, you will find it only in Costa Rica and western Panama. In San Antonio we are at about 1320 metres. Glaucidium costaricanum generally has much more conspicuous spotting than brasilianum:

Restricted to Costa Rica and western Panama – the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl on the slopes of the Turrialba Volcano; photo by John Beer

The costaricanum individual above is from an earlier excursion of John’s (Bajos del Volcán). The spotting is quite conspicuous.

Be aware, however, that the rufous morph of costaricanum (see below) is much less heavily spotted, if at all, and could easily cause some confusion, and not just because of its rufous attire:

The rufous morph of the Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium costaricanum) – spotless?! Photo by John Beer.

The third pygmy-owl found in this country, the Central American Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium griseiceps), has many fine white spotting on its grey head but is not found higher than about 800 m. This avoids potential confusion with costaricanum – please look for my earlier posts (with photos) discussing pygmy-owls. I would welcome any good photos this species.

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