• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer

Flammulated Owl


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small owl of mountain pine forests, the Flammulated Owl is common in scattered localities throughout the West.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.9–6.7 in
15–17 cm
16.1 in
41 cm
1.6–2.2 oz
45–63 g
Other Names
  • Petit-duc nain (French)
  • Tecolote flameado (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Flammulated Owl was once considered rare, but improved census techniques revealed that it is actually quite common. Some consider it the most abundant owl of western pine forests.
  • The monotonous flat toot of the Flammulated Owl can be difficult to locate. The softness of the call, together with the gradual beginning and end make its direction hard to detect. In addition, when the owl detects a person, it sings even more softly, making it sound as if the owl is far away.
  • Although most small owls eat insects, they also usually eat mice, shrews, and other small vertebrates. The Flammulated Owl eats very few vertebrates at all, and subsists nearly entirely on insects, especially crickets, moths, and beetles. Perhaps this diet is the reason that few Flammulated Owls remain in northern areas over the winter.
  • The oldest recorded Flammulated Owl was at least 7 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and relreleased during banding operations in Colorado in 1988. It had been banded in the same state in 1981.



Breeds in open pine forest in mountains, especially ponderosa pine forest.



Nocturnal insects.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–4 eggs
Egg Description
White with faint creamy tint.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in white down, eyes closed.
Nest Description

Nests in tree cavities. Adds no nesting material to cavity.

Nest Placement




Hunts at night, gleaning insects off of vegetation.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is little information in Flammulated Owl population trends, but they appear to be declining. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 20,000, with 91% spending some part of the year in Mexico, and 60% breeding in the U.S. The species rates a 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Flammulated Owl is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats.


Range Map Help

Flammulated Owl Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

You Might Also Like

Raptors and Rat Poison, Living Bird, Summer 2015.



Or Browse Bird Guide by Family, Name or Shape
bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. You can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell or give your email address to others.