Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Special birds: Pygmy Owl

Though just 16-18 cm in length (Eurasian) Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum is a feisty little predator that preys on small mammals and birds, sometimes birds as large as itself. It occurs fairly commonly in the north of the region, in mature coniferous and mixed forests in the Baltic States, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. South of here, it is less common, though it does occur in the Alps, Carpathians and Balkan ranges. It often nests in old woodpecker cavities and rarely uses nest-boxes to breed though it will use them as larders. The best periods to search for this species are spring and autumn, when they call at dawn and dusk. The most familar call is its "song", a piping series of notes not unlike that of a Bullfinch. In autumn an ascending shrill piping call is made which is sometimes called "the ladder" call.

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