8. Northern Pygmy Owls
Northern little owls often take prey same size or larger than themselves.
Northern Pygmy Owls are small owls native to western north America. These little birds are the smallest species of owl. Adults are 15-17 cm in overall length (nearly 6 inches) and are gray, brownish-gray or rufous in colour.
Some experts consider this bird a superspecies with the mountain pygmy owl. The American Ornithologists’ Union, the authority for the North American region, does not recognize this split, so the populations are still considered conspecific. Clear differences in the territorial calls by males are the basis for a proposed split, with birds in the high elevations of Arizona and Mexico giving a two-note call while their more northerly congeners give a repeated single-note call.
Results from DNA sequence comparisons of cytochrome-b have been weak and inconclusive despite being referenced repeatedly as a justification for taxonomic splitting. Some taxonomists split the northern pygmy owl from the mountain form, in which case the latter takes the nominate form, and the former takes the G. calfornicum specific name.
Adults are 15–17 cm in overall length and are gray, brownish-gray or rufous in colour. This owl has a round white spotted head, weakly defined facial disc, and dark upper breast, wings and tail, the latter quite long compared to other owls. The eyes are yellow and the bill is yellowish-green. The bird has two black nape spots outlined in white on the back of its head, which look like eyes. The mid to lower breast is white with darker vertical streaking. Legs are feathered down to the four well-armed toes on each foot.