Subtropical Pygmy-Owl is a poorly known species endemic to the central Andes. It is only found on scattered outlying eastern ridges and mountains along the east slope of the Andes from southern Colombia to northern Bolivia, where it is resident in subtropical evergreen forest. It inhabits the subcanopy and presumably feeds on insects, small reptiles and birds though its basic natural history is poorly known. Perhaps due to this remote, patchy and often inaccessible habitat the species has long evaded detection and was only formally described in 1995. Phenotypically Subtropical Pygmy-Owl is very similar to other pygmy-owls and this form was only recognized as distinct by its unique three-noted call, despite the presence of specimens in collections.