Northern Pygmy-Owls in this area prey heavily upon voles, chipmunks, small to medium sized birds and even insects. The female begins incubation in late April. Incubation lasts about 28 days. The volunteers can always tell when the eggs have hatched. After the eggs have hatched, the female begins bringing food into the nest. Prior to the eggs hatching, the female will consume her prey outside the nest. The first day she brings food into the cavity is the day the eggs have hatched.
In most cases, the first chick fledges about 30 days after hatching. If there are two owlets (baby owls), they most often, both fledge the same day. If there are three owlets, one often fledges the first day with the other two fledging the following day.
The owlets remain with the adults for three to four weeks before moving out on their own.
This video shows an attack by a Northern Pygmy-Owl. It was recorded by Tom Bradley.
Through CARRI's Northern Pygmy-Owl research, we have documented some fascinating information about these tiny predator
1) Northern Pygmy-Owlets are independent from their parents at about 4 weeks post fledging.
2) Some research suggests that Northern Pygmy-Owls prey chiefly upon insects, yet we find them preying mostly upon animals such as voles and chipmunks and birds from hummingbirds to finches, sparrows and warblers.
3) Northern Pygmy-Owls prefer nesting in cavities excavated in Aspen trees.
4) Northern Pygmy-Owls nest in cavities as low as 11 feet from the ground ans as high as 40 feet from the ground.
5) Northern Pygmy-Owls have different hunting techniques when hunting birds versus animals.
6) Northern Pygmy-Owls false eye spots seem to act to deter potential predators from attacking the birds from behind, as the predators don't really know what direction the owl is looking. Predators don't like to attack prey that sees them approach as this often means the prey will out run/fly the predator and the predator does not catch a meal.
7) We have found Northern Pygmy Owls prefer to nest in cavities excavated by either Northern Flickers or Hairy Woodpeckers.
Below are some photos of Northern Pygmy-Owls with a variety of prey items.
A Horned Lark, Deer Mouse, nestling American Robin, Vole, Lizard, Chipmunk, Gray-headed Junco, and Mountain Chickadee.