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Small and Fierce - Northern Pygmy-Owls

Not all owls in the Okanagan and Similkameen are big and imposing like our Great Horned Owl that many people have likely seen. Some of our owls are small and compact but can be just as fierce as their bigger cousins. Did you know that Northern Pygmy-Owls can take on prey that are about 2-3 times their size?


These cute but feisty owls are about 16-18 cm longs and will prey on rodents, insects, reptiles, birds, and have even know to have gotten prey as big as chickens. They are a sit and wait predator that will hunt during the day. While most owls have asymmetrical ears that give them better hearing, Northern Pygmy-Owls have more symmetrical ears and rely more on sight than other owls to hunt.


Because of their more aggressive behaviour though, Northern Pygmy-Owls are not very popular among other birds. These small owls are known to get mobbed by other songbirds that find the owl threatening. In big groups, these songbirds will harass the Northern Pygmy-Owls until they leave. They are not great at making friends.


Photo taken by John Lockhart



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