- ORDER: Strigiformes
- FAMILY: Strigidae
This tiny, reddish owl, scarcely larger than a small juice can, spends its time foraging for insects near the tops of massive pine or fir trees. These aspects make it hard to spot, although its repetitive, low-pitched hoot is easier to notice. Once thought to be rare residents of mountainous pine forests, Flammulated Owls can be common in forests of large trees and are highly migratory. It winters in Mexico and Central America, but little else is known about the species in its wintering areas.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Flammulated Owls are so well camouflaged that finding one during the daytime is a red-letter day. It’s considerably easier to find a calling male at night, but this tiny bird’s very low hoot can be maddeningly difficult to locate and usually sounds farther away than it actually is. Imitations of the call may lure males closer, but patience and a good flashlight are indispensable, and nighttime views should be kept brief to avoid disturbing the bird.
- Autillo Flamulado (Spanish)
- Petit-duc nain (French)
- Cool Facts
- The unusually large trachea (windpipe) of Flammulated Owls permits it to make a remarkably low-pitched hoot, making it sound like a much larger owl—an advantage for a tiny species that could easily fall prey to larger predators.
- The Flammulated Owl eats very few vertebrate animals, feeding 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, when insects are scarce or unavailable.
- The oldest recorded Flammulated Owl was at least 7 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Colorado in 1988. It had been banded in the same state in 1981.