Montana Outdoors

December 22, 2012

Who? ~ Who?

Filed under: Birds, Winter — Tags: , — montucky @ 7:55 pm

Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium pinicola

Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium pinicola

Northern Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium pinicola

This morning when I first caught a glimpse of this little one through the fog I thought I was just seeing a leaf in the top of a bare chokecherry. He is about the size of a sparrow and weighs only two ounces.

(If you are interested, you can find more information about him here .)


  1. How Cool, a gift just for you.

    Comment by Homestead Ramblings — December 22, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

    • Yes it was; like a gift. There are so many tiny miracles out there!

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  2. What a sweet little bird! I love owls, but we have mostly the bigger ones here; great horned owls, barn owls, barred owls, and snowy owls. I saw a pair of small ones many years ago that I thought might be burrowing owls, or something that size and shape, but haven’t seen any lately. The great horneds around our place have sure taken care of the feral rabbit population, but unfortunately (I believe) they are also responsible for the decline in pheasant and quail numbers. I would LOVE to have seen this little pygmy owl with my own eyes!

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 22, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

    • We also have the large ones, although I seldom see one of them. There are even some snowy owls that visit not far from here. These tiny ones are just so cute, and not at all rare. They are so small though that they are usually overlooked. I really wasn’t sure this was an owl until I went back to the house and mounted my longer lens and saw him through that.

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

      • You’re so lucky to see them! Thanks for sharing them on your blog.

        Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 22, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

        • Their range goes well up the Pacific coast. Perhaps there are some in your area?

          Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

          • I’ve just checked the big bird book and apparently their range does cover Vancouver Island, but I haven’t seen any yet. I’ll have to keep my eyes open. Maybe I’ll be lucky one day.

            Comment by wordsfromanneli — December 22, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

  3. You really did a great portrait of this fellow, Montucky. I love the stare!

    Comment by bentehaarstad — December 22, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

    • Can you imagine that stare coming from a very large bird? Awesome, it would be!

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  4. He’s beautiful Terry! Love these!

    Comment by allbymyself09 — December 22, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

    • Yes, he is a beautiful little fellow. I hope you are having a great Christmas season, Barbara!

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  5. oh my gosh, you are so lucky to see this little critter!

    Comment by Tammie — December 22, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

    • Yes, very lucky. I shall have to remember to look more closely for them; they are so tiny.

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

  6. He is adorable!

    Comment by Roberta — December 22, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

    • He was all fluffed out because of the cold. Quite a hardy little creature!

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

  7. Way cool….

    Comment by seekraz — December 22, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

    • Isn’t he! When they look at you, you know you’ve been looked at!

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

  8. Look at those eyes. What a beautiful, perfect little being. And what a gift from the earth to you.

    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — December 22, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

    • Yes, what eyes! You are right about the gift, too, a gift of wonder and humility. Measured by weight, I am 1,640 times his size and yet I cannot even approach the way he lives his life in harmony with the natural world.

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  9. PERFECT shot!

    Comment by Sandy — December 22, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

    • You know, these shots are examples of the old saying that “it’s always worth a try”. It was so dark with the fog that I thought there was no chance at all of getting a photo so I tried the best thing I could figure out; got as close as I could (about 20 feet) and used the on-camera flash. There must have been just barely enough light from the flash.

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

  10. how interesting! that first shot almost looks like a painting. what penetrating eyes!

    Comment by skouba — December 22, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

    • His face told me that he wasn’t especially afraid of me. I see interest in his eyes, but not fear. What a fantastic little creature!

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

  11. Wonderful photos of a neat bird. I’ve never seen one.

    Comment by Sue — December 22, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

    • I had not seen one until two or three years ago either. They have a fairly limited range and they are just so small that they are easy to overlook. I hope you do get to see one, but you live a ways to the east of their range!

      Comment by montucky — December 22, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

  12. Wow! How special to have seen that little guy, and what lovely photos you got of him. Absolutely beautiful!

    Comment by The Lonely Dogs — December 22, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

    • That’s an amazing little creature. Think of such a tiny thing living through the harsh winter all on his own, using only his hunting skills to stay alive. And he is perfectly comfortable doing it.

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 12:36 am

  13. Lovely photo. Owls are such interesting animals. Thanks.

    Comment by sethsnap — December 23, 2012 @ 12:52 am

    • They are very interesting. Fierce predators that receive little attention.

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

  14. Great shots of a cute little fellow. About the size of our screech owls. I often wonder how many times I walk past owls and never notice them.

    Comment by Grampy — December 23, 2012 @ 2:46 am

    • I wonder too. Many, many times I’m sure, especially these tiny ones.

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

  15. Wonderful portraits! He’s a handsome little guy.

    Comment by Finn Holding — December 23, 2012 @ 4:05 am

    • I think he is too. Not the most popular bird around though, but I’m sure he helps control the small rodent population too.

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

  16. Those are amazing shots of a bird seldom seen. I had someone tell me there was an owl in a tree one day but by the time I got there it was gone. This person had a dog on a leash and said the owl just sat there for quite a while, not bothered at all by the sight of the dog.

    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — December 23, 2012 @ 6:59 am

    • Owls seem to react in their own ways, unlike other birds. I hear great horned owls on most summer nights, but very seldom see one.

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

  17. He’s a beauty! Have a lovely holiday!

    Comment by Roberta — December 23, 2012 @ 7:17 am

    • He sure is, isn’t he! Happy holiday, Roberta!

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

  18. Hard to imagine an owl the size of a sparrow. He appears, though, to have the same fierce demeanor of his larger brothers.


    Comment by knightofswords — December 23, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    • I love his attitude. He showed no fear of me at all. I think he has a concealed carry permit.

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

      • Feisty little critter. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Montucky.


        Comment by knightofswords — December 24, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  19. Awww… what a sweet little one! It’s a darn good thing your camera is a body part! :)

    Merry Christmas!!

    Comment by kcjewel — December 23, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    • He’s sure looks sweet, but I think he packs a wallop. Merry Christmas to you too, Jewel!

      Comment by montucky — December 23, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

  20. Great photo…I’m so glad you had your camera, Montucky!
    Little owl with such intense eyes.
    I wonder what this owl was thinking as it looked at you?

    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — December 23, 2012 @ 8:53 am

    • He sure showed no fear of me, but he was very interested. I almost felt as though he was in control of the meeting!

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  21. He is gorgeous. Superb photos! What a lovely Christmas visitor.

    Comment by Jo Woolf — December 23, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    • I was very pleased to see him. I have so much admiration for the wild creatures.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:03 am

  22. The owl’s direct glance makes that first picture especially effective.

    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — December 23, 2012 @ 9:33 am

    • Yes, he was very comfortable making direct eye contact.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:04 am

  23. Wow! How beautiful! Lucky you!

    Comment by twoscamps — December 23, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    • Yes, I felt very lucky. The encounter was a privilege.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:06 am

  24. What a sweet little owl, -I´ve never heard about such a tiny owl-, and what a great photo, that look…it´s priceless. How can you get such a clear photo when not prepared, do you have all your camera stuff ready in by the window case something happens?

    I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

    Comment by Giiid — December 23, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    • Actually, I was out walking when I first saw him and returned to the house for the camera. Luckily he stayed put and gave me time to change the lens and return.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family too, Giiid!

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:08 am

  25. What a wonderful gift for you! Thanks for sharing with us. Merry Christmas and fab 2013. Looking forward to more amazing photos.

    Comment by Elizabeth — December 23, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    • Merry Christmas to you too, Elizabeth! I hope for more opportunities like that next year and plan to get out much more too.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:09 am

  26. I’m glad you let us know his size as from the close shot I never would have thought that. Yes, it’s always worth a try and look at your reward! Fantastic!

    Comment by Debby — December 23, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

    • Often when using a close-up lens for a wildflower picture I am pleasantly surprised when I see what the camera did. This was much the same, but with a 300mm lens.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:11 am

  27. I remember when you posted a photo of one a year or two ago. I had never heard of this tiny owl before then. I went and read about them on the link you posted. Pretty amazing they can kill birds and animals twice their size!

    Comment by kateri — December 23, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    • They must be fierce predators in their world, although it’s difficult to think of something that weighs only two ounces as fierce.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:13 am

  28. Oh my. what a find.

    Comment by Bo Mackison (@bo_mackison) — December 23, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

    • It was, and think of all that’s out there that we never really get a chance to see.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:14 am

  29. Isn’t it amazing that something so small can cope so well and appear so fierce? I saw on your link that this owl overlaps territory in Arizona with the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, which I believe is relatively common in South Texas. I saw one there a few years ago, near the McAllen/Brownsville area. An aunt and uncle used to spend the winter there, and one of the owls was living (or hanging out) in a tree close to their RV.

    When you find something like this, do you find it hard to leave? I could spend hours looking at something like this little wonder – if he’d allow.

    Comment by shoreacres — December 23, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

    • I guess our imagined standards of fragility don’t apply very well to the world of small creatures. As with many of my encounters with wildlife, I stayed as long as he would tolerate and he left but I think not in fright. I was so impressed with his attitude; he just exuded confidence and self control. Such encounters are very memorable for me, and actually some of my favorite ones!

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:26 am

  30. And all puffed up to keep warm. Wow; I’d never seen such a small owl. Beautiful!
    A wonderful Christmas gift. Have a very Merry Christmas! :O)

    Comment by janina — December 24, 2012 @ 12:23 am

    • Yes, a very special Christmas gift too! Thank you for visiting and I wish you a very Merry Christmas too!

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 12:55 am

  31. He’s darling! I didn’t know they made them so small (haha). I always worry that if an owl shows up I’ll need to worry about my outdoor cats but I guess one the size of a sparrow couldn’t do much damage. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas, Terry!

    Comment by Candace — December 24, 2012 @ 1:35 am

    • I think our cats would be safe! Merry Christmas to you and your family too, Candace.

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  32. Wow. I love its “fstern” gaze. That is perfect shot.

    Happy Holidays to You and Yours.

    Comment by Sartenada — December 24, 2012 @ 2:20 am

    • He sure has a tough look about him, doesn’t he!

      Happy Holidays!

      Comment by montucky — December 24, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  33. What a great capture of a gorgeous owl! I love owls and rarely do I get to see an owl much less get close enough to photograph. Amazing! Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    Comment by Anna Surface — December 25, 2012 @ 5:52 am

    • I see them only rarely too Anna. Merry Christmas!

      Comment by montucky — December 25, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

  34. Fantastic capture & what a beautiful owl!

    Merry Christmas to you & your family & a safe, happy & healthy New Year! =)

    Comment by Tricia — December 25, 2012 @ 8:42 am

  35. WOW, what fabulous shots of this petite fella! I adore owls…. Adore them! Really a wonderful capture.

    Happy holidays to you and yours — what a lovely gift with this little owl. :)

    Comment by FeyGirl — December 25, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

    • I have a real fondness for owls too and was delighted to get to photograph this tiny one. Happy Holidays to you too!

      Comment by montucky — December 26, 2012 @ 12:14 am

  36. That little guy is adorable. And you caught some wonderful shots of him.

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — December 26, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    • There’s just something intriguing about an owl, isn’t there! These tiny ones are incredible.

      Comment by montucky — December 26, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  37. Great photo of a gorgeous bird!

    Comment by Watching Seasons — December 31, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    • Thanks. I hope to see more of these little ones.

      Comment by montucky — December 31, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  38. You captured Mr Who so well

    Comment by Anonymous — January 6, 2013 @ 9:09 am

    • Thank you. I didn’t think my chances were good, but I was happy with what turned out.

      Comment by montucky — January 7, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

  39. I love this photo, he appeared that he was posing for you.

    Comment by Evangeline Art Photography — January 6, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    • I think he stayed around because he was very curious, and I was surprised that he seemed completely unafraid of me.

      Comment by montucky — January 7, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  40. barred owls in texas

    Who? ~ Who? | Montana Outdoors

    Trackback by barred owls in texas — January 25, 2015 @ 1:32 pm

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