|Photo by Rick Bowers (Owl Pages)
flammulated owl (en); mocho-flamado (pt); petit-duc nain (fr); autillo flamulado (es); Ponderosaeule (de)
This species breeds in mountain patches from southern British Columbia and Alberta, in Canada, across most of the western United States and into Mexico as far south as Oaxaca. Most populations migrate south to winter from southern Mexico to El Salvador.
These small owls are 15-17 cm long and have a wingspan of 40 cm. They weigh 45-65 g.
The flammulated owl is found in mountain forests, in boreal temperate and tropical regions, favouring aspen, Ponderosa and Jeffrey pine forests with dense understorey, but also using mixed forests with oak, Douglas fir, white fir, incense cedar and sugar pine. They are present at altitudes of 1.500-3.000 m.
They are insectivorous, hunting nocturnal insects such as beetles, moths and crickets, as well as spiders. They hunt from a perch, either taking their prey in flight, from the foliage or from the ground.
Flammulated owls are breed in April-August. They nest in a natural tree cavity or a woodpecker nest, sometimes also using nest boxes. The female lays 2-4 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 21-24 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 30-35 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 4-5 weeks later.
IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and the population is roughly estimated at 40.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction caused by timber harvesting.