Friday, February 18, 2011

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

A Ferruginous Pygmy Owl on its perch keeping a wary eye on us, Puerrto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
We saw a few Ferruginous Pygmy Owls (Above) while we out on our Bird Tour with our guide, Luis Ku, near Puerto Morelos. As its name suggests, it is a tiny owl that only grows to about 5"-8" in length.

The Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl is native to South America, Central America and portions of North America, including both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Mexico and makes appearances into the very southern borders of Arizona and Texas. It seems to have adapted itself to a variety of habitats. According to http://www.owls.org/ they take up residence in mostly tropical and subtropical forests, but also in forest clearings, pastureland, parks and gardens with old trees and thick bushes. 
Another Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Puerrto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
The Ferruginous Pygmy Owl is crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). We saw a couple at sunrise, but even late into the morning we were spotting them - often on open branches overlooking clearings in the forest as it is known to hunt by day searching for rodents, reptiles and other smaller birds, which they catch with deadly accuracy because their feathers are extra soft and do not make any noise as it flies towards its unsuspecting prey.
Its bright yellow eyes are very striking (Above) and unusually large in proportion to its head. They are very similar to the Northern Pygmy Owl with a brownish/reddish head , back and wings contrasted with white spots; however the Ferruginous has prominent white eyebrows which help make the yellow eyes even more luminous.  Both species also have a white belly and chest streaked with brown and a tail barred with alternate dark brown and lighter reddish brown stripes. Although the photos here don't show it, they have black marks on the back of their neck which look like eyes to their enemies when their backs are turned.

Owls are a species that I am very much a novice at identifying, so I am looking forward to seeing more and learning more about them.

1 comment:

tchesney said...

Wow, these are fantastic captures...I really love that first image, just the owl and that bright blue sky!