Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Polytypic: 13 subspecies
  • Authors: Ray Larsen

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The typical territorial/advertisement call of the male Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl is a repeated hoot. The notes are centered at around 620 Hz, and usually are given in a long series of 8-30 hoots evenly spaced at a speed between 150 and 200 notes per second (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000). The call is monotonal with no variation in pitch note-to-note. Between bouts of calling the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl usually is silent for several seconds or more. The call is typically performed from a perched position, inclufing from habitual perches near the nest (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000). Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls respond readily to broadcasted calls (Flesch and Steidl 2007), and call significantly more often in response to solicited broadcasts than they do without solicitation (Proudfoot and Beasom 1996). When solicited, the calls are louder and more rapid than otherwise (Proudfoot and Beasom 1996, Proudfoot and Johnson 2000). Males tend to perform the territorial/advertisement call less often as nestlings develop (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000).

For a representative audio recording with sonogram, see audio

Although they don’t perform territorial/advertisement calls, females have alarm calls: two syllables in quick succession with an upward inflection. Males have not been recorded performing alarm calls and no anecdotal information is available. Females also “chitter” when receiving food and immediately before, during, and after copulation—a soft and short clucking sound. Juveniles beg for food with an even higher-pitched call that resembles a rattling sound (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000).

Additional recordings of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl vocalizations can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls sometimes snap their mandibles together to make a “beak clap” sound. The behavior is likely a sign of distress, as this bill snapping usually is reported during situations such as when the owl is handling or during nest inspection (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000).

Recommended Citation

Larsen, R. (2012). Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.fepowl.01