Northern Pygmy-Owl Biology
A Reference for North and Central American Owls
Name: Northern Pygmy-Owl – Glaucidium californicum
Other Common Names: Californian Pygmy-Owl (californicum); Coast Pygmy-Owl (grinnelli); Rocky Mountain Pygmy-Owl (pinicola); Vancouver Pygmy-Owl (swarthi)
Subspecies: There are four races of Northern Pygmy-Owl in North America.
G. c. swarthi is restricted to Vancouver Island.
G. c. grinnelli stretches along the West Coast of North America from S.E. Alaska all the way to S. California.
G. c. californicum is the most widespread race in North America. It ranges from the northern interior of British Columbia and east to Alberta then south into Nevada and S. California .
G. c. pinicola is found from Idaho and Montana south to California and Nevada. This race is sometimes combined with G. c. californicum.
**Note: Because of recent DNA evidence, Northern Pygmy-Owl, which may have been formerly considered a race of Glaucidium gnoma, is considered in this text as its own separate nominant species; Glaucidium californicum with its four races defined above. The additional races G. g. cabanense, and G. g. haskinsii are also considered by this site as the separate species G. cabanense (Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl), and G. haskinsii (Baja Pygmy-Owl) respectively. G. gnoma (Mountain Pygmy-Owl), which ranges from S.E. Arizona and S.W. New Mexico south through the interior highlands of Mexico to Oaxaca is accepted as its owl species by this site. If the AOU & ABA also accepts this division we will have a new species of Pygmy-Owl in North America(!), the Mountain Pygmy-Owl. The Mountain Pygmy (G. gnoma) is also slightly smaller (.4in. average) than the Northern Pygmy-Owl and its toots (notes of call) come faster and in pairs of 2 notes where the Northern Pygmy-Owl (G. californicum) has slower evenly spaced single notes to its call.
Measurements and Weights:
Wingspan: 14.5 – 16 in.
Length: 7 – 7 1/2 in.
Tail: 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 in.
Average Weight: Male: 2.2 oz.
Average Weight: Female: 2.6 oz.