Cuban Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium siju


Cuban Pygmy-Owl is the commonest and most frequently observed of Cuba’s owls. It inhabits most areas of semi-open woodland, and occurs in two morphs, a grey-brown and a red morph, of which the former is much the commoner. Like most pygmy-owls it is easily seen and heard in the daytime. Two main vocalisations are known; the male’s song is a series of more or less equally spaced notes similar to the song of the Mountain Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma), while both sexes give a rapid and accelerating series of rather higher-pitched, squeaky-sounding notes, perhaps mainly in alarm. Cuban Pygmy-Owls breed in tree holes formerly used by woodpeckers, and the 3–4 eggs are incubated by the female alone, although few other details have been published to date. Three subspecies of this pygmy-owl have been recognised. The nominate subspecies is by far the most widespread, over at least the majority of the main island of Cuba, with the subspecies G. s. vittatum described from the Isla de la Juventud, as well as the Guanahacabibes Peninsula in the extreme west of the country, and G. s. turquinensis recently erected for that population found on the Pico Turquino, in the far southeast of the main island. However, the taxonomy of this owl is still somewhat confused, and some authors, for instance, have restricted subspecies vittatum to the Isle of Pines. Overall, the species’ relationships to other Glaucidium are still the subject of considerable speculation.

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© Gregory F Budney

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-breeding

Recommended Citation

Cuban Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium siju), In Neotropical Birds Online (, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: