Bird Families

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  • Birds

Domain: Eukaryotes

Kingdom: Animals

A type: Chordates

Class: Birds

Squad: Owls

Family: Owls

Genus: Sparrow owls

View: Sparrow Owl

Bird spread

Sparrow owls are very widespread - on all continents, with the exception of Australia. A particularly large species diversity of birds is observed in South and Central America. Little owls live in a variety of localities and climatic conditions - in the taiga, tropical forests and even deserts.

Description of the bird

A very small owl, smaller than a starling (body length 15–18 cm, wingspan 32–39 cm, weight 50–85 g). The appearance is typically "owl": the physique is dense, the head seems large and rounded (but smaller than that of the Upline Owl in relation to body size), there is a facial disc, although not very well expressed. The flight is fast, when flying from place to place, it is wavy, like the flight of a woodpecker: the bird alternates between flapping its wings and sliding with folded wings (in a fur-legged owl, the flight is more direct, in between the flaps of its wings it plans on extended wings). When excited, it often moves its tail in different directions. The activity is predominantly twilight and nocturnal, but sometimes it screams and hunts during the day. Trusting, he lets the person close.


The coloration is mainly brown with light rounded streaks on top, the underparts are light with brown streaks, the tail is striped. White spots on and around the facial disc form thin concentric circles (not always visible from afar). The eyes are yellow, the beak is light. The expression of the "face" is "stern", "stern" (in the fur-legged one - "surprised").

Male and female are similar, the female is slightly larger. It differs from the Upland and House Owls by the small size and color of the facial disc, from the Scops owl - by the absence of ears, a light beak and a pattern of the facial disc. Chicks are white, becoming grayish at the age of one to two weeks. The mesoptile begins to develop from the age of one week and is fully formed by the age of one month.

The nestling or fledglings in the mesoptile are generally similar in color to an adult bird: brown above, light below, but almost without light streaks on the upper part of the body, streaks on the underside are more blurred, there are fewer of them. The color of the eyes turns yellow, usually by the time the fledglings fly out (before that, the eyes are dark). The replacement of the mesoptile with the first adult outfit occurs in autumn, at the age of 3-5 months, and in it young owls are already very similar to adult birds, but have fewer spots on top, and they are less bright.


It flows in March and April, as well as in autumn during the period of settlement of young birds, the song consists of short, quiet whistles "whew ... whew ... whew ...»At intervals of up to 2 seconds (but may be faster), similar to the whistles of a bullfinch, but more muffled and slightly longer. Roughly the same whistles are used in other situations, sometimes a trill is composed of them.pyu-pyu-to-pyu-pyu". Females can scream in the same way.Fledglings emit high, slightly rattling whistles for about 0.8 seconds, in them the sound first rises rapidly, then sharply decreases. Sometimes females also scream similarly.

Sparrow Owl (Glaucidium passerinum)

A small owl with a body length of 15 to 19 cm, a wingspan of 35-40 cm, a wing length of 9 to 11 cm, and weighing up to 80 g. Females are larger than males. The back is grayish-brown or dark brown, with white streaks and a white transverse pattern on the wings. The tummy is white with brown longitudinal stripes. Dark spots are located on the sides of the goiter and breast.

The tail is gray-brown in color with five narrow white longitudinal stripes. The head is small, round, flattened, no “ears”. The facial disc is poorly developed. The head is gray with brown spots, white and brown ocular rings, and short white "eyebrows". The iris is yellow. The beak is large, yellow. The toes are feathered up to powerful black or yellow claws.

The habitat of the species covers Europe and Asia, where the bird is sedentary, and only in cold winters migrates to the south. Lives in mountain coniferous forests.

Bolivian cheese (Glaucidium bolivianum)

The body length is about 16 cm. There are no “ears”. The plumage is gray, brown and red-brown. The head and back are covered with white spots. The abdomen is whitish with dark spots. There are dark longitudinal stripes on the sides. The iris is yellowish. The species is distributed in the Andes from Peru to Bolivia and Argentina. A sedentary bird that lives in mountain forests at altitudes from 1000 to 3000 m above sea level.

Collared Owl (Glaucidium brodiei)

The body length of the bird is 15-17 cm. The wingspan is up to 38 cm. The weight does not exceed 80 g. The head is gray-brown in color with white spots. There are no "ears". The back is gray-brown with dark and light transverse stripes. White "eyebrows" are pronounced on the head, and a white spot is located on the throat. There is a "false face" on the back of the head.

The species nests in oak and coniferous forests in India, China, Pakistan and Taiwan, at altitudes ranging from 600 to 3000 m.

Gnome California Passerine Owl (Glaucidium californicum)

The species is common on the west coast of North America, ranging from British Columbia and southern Alaska to southern California and Arizona and northern Mexico. Outwardly it looks like an ordinary sparrow owl.

Cape Passerine Owl (Glaucidium capense)

Body length up to 20 cm. Females are larger than males. The bird lives in Angola, Botswana, Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland. Lives in forests near water bodies.

Brownback Syk (Glaucidium castanotum)

The species is an enlemik of Sri Lanka, where it lives in tropical rainforests at altitudes up to 6500 m. It is a small owl with a body length of up to 19 cm, chestnut brown with mottles.

Costa Rican dwarf sandwich (Glaucidium costaricanum)

The bird's body length is up to 15 cm. There are no “ears”. The facial disc is pale brown or yellowish brown with red spots and thin stripes. The eyebrows are whitish. On the back of the head there is a "false face" pattern: two black spots with a white rim. The back is mottled, the belly is whitish.

The species is common in Central America, from Costa Rica to Panama. A resident bird that lives in mountainous and foggy forests at altitudes of 900 m above sea level.

Cuckoo Passerine Owl (Glaucidium cuculoides)

Body length up to 23 cm. Plumage in brownish-white tones. The habitat includes the northern countries of South Asia (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan), and Southeast Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, North China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam).

Dwarf Sparrow Owl (Glaucidium gnoma)

Body length from 15 to 17 cm, wingspan about 20 cm, weight up to 60 g. Dorsum dark brown with white spots. The tail is long, dark, decorated with thin white stripes. The belly is white with black longitudinal stripes. The claws are black, the beak is pale yellow. The head is rounded, without "ears", the facial disc is poorly developed. Eyes are yellow. There is a "false face" on the back of the head.

The bird nests in southeastern Arizona, in the highlands of Mexico to Panama, Guatemala and Honduras. Inhabits mountainous mixed and coniferous forests.

Cape Dwarf Sych (Glaucidium hoskinsii)

Body length about 16 cm. The head is rounded without "ears". The plumage from above is from light brown-brown to gray-brown. The belly is striped. The "false face" is especially pronounced. The species is found in the south of Mexico, where it is sedentary. Inhabits pine and oak-pine forests at altitudes from 1500 to 2100 m.

Andean sycamore (Glaucidium jardinii)

Body length up to 16 cm. There are no “ears”. The plumage is dark brown or reddish in color. The wings are long, rounded. The head is spotty. There is a white spot on the neck. The "eyebrows" are white. There is a "false face" on the back of the head. Lives in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador. A sedentary species, the inhabitant lives in mountainous and foggy forests at altitudes from 2000 to 3500 m above sea level.

Tiny Sparrow Owl (Glaucidium minutissimum)

Body length from 12 to 14 cm, weight up to 45 g. The facial disc is weakly expressed, there are no “ears”. There is a "false face" on the back of the head. There are red spots around the eyes, white "eyebrows" above the eyes. Dorsum reddish-brown with small white spots. The tail is brown with white stripes. On the throat there is a white spot with a red border. The tummy is light gray or white with red stripes. The beak is yellowish-green, the claws are gray.

The species is common in Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina. It lives in evergreen tropical and subtropical forests.

Pearl Owl (Glaucidium perlatum)

The body length of the bird is from 17 to 20 cm, weight is from 68 to 147 g. The plumage on the back is brown with light “pearl” spots. The tummy is white with brown stripes. The head is brown. There is a "false face" on the back of the head. The eyes are yellow. The beak is yellow, the claws are black.

The habitat of the species includes such African countries as Senegal, Gambia and South Mauritania, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia.

Jungle Owl (Glaucidium radiatum)

Body length up to 20 cm, wingspan about 25 cm. The back is brown with light red stripes in the head and neck region. The wings are rounded, dark red in color with wide stripes and white tips. The tail is dark brown with narrow white stripes. The cheeks, neck, chin and chest are white at the top. Beak and legs are greenish-beige, eyes are golden-yellow, claws are black.

The species is common in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka.

Cuban Owl (Glaucidium siju)

The bird reaches 17 cm in length. The head is round, without "ears", with a "false face" on the back of the head. The back is brown, striped. There are buffy spots on the breast and sides. The eyes are yellow. The species is endemic to the islands of Cuba. It is a sedentary bird.


Like other taiga owls, the passerine owl hunts during the day, and at dawn, and at dusk. Its food is mainly small mammals, mainly murine rodents (shrews, hamsters, gray rats, lemmings and other voles, forest and house mice), as well as small passerine birds, and it is not afraid to attack animals of the same size. Sometimes the little boy eats only the head of the prey, eating away the brain and eyes, and throws the rest. Chicks that have risen on the wing also have insects in their diet. The hunting area of ​​the little owl covers 1.5–4 km². Sparrow owls often collect food supplies, especially in winter, which they store in hollows. Therefore, under the inhabited hollow of the owl there are always many remnants of its prey - vole skins, bird feathers. Also in winter, owls like to visit bird feeders, where titmice, bullfinches, and sparrows are watching.

Feeding of the Sparrow Owl

In nature, the hunting grounds of passerine owls are significant in size and often cover an area of ​​up to 4 km2. Feathers of such a small size, although they are predators, do not have the opportunity to choose large prey for themselves as an object of hunting.

Small birds, various kinds of rodents can become their victims: rats, hamsters, voles, mice, lemmings.But, apparently, being gourmets, passerine owls often eat only the head of their prey, feasting on their eyes and brain, while abandoning the remaining parts to rot. During the winter months, miniature owls prefer to use pre-stocked supplies. The usual food for the chicks of these winged creatures is only insects.

But babies are able to show considerable dexterity, grabbing them right on the fly. When keeping a sparrow owl at home, it is possible to use vegetables and fruits, as well as a variety of plant seeds and cereals as feed. But in each specific case, it is better to first consult a veterinarian. However, sparrows and other similar small birds are the best delicacy for the little ones.


The mating season of the passerine locks begins in February and lasts until May. The male begins to sing near the nesting site, calling the female. It begins to whistle long before dark, and in cloudy weather it whistles during the day. Voice signals are sometimes heard for more than an hour without interruption. Evening showers are more intense than morning ones. The peak of the current falls on April. Sparrow owls are monogamous birds, and usually keep a pair for many years. But if these are young birds without a pair, then the process of acquaintance begins.

The male flies with the female around his territory, and shows her nesting places. If the male uses the same nest as in the previous season, then that location will be the only one that he will show to the female. Males are very attached to their own territory, and can use it for up to 7 years. If the female agrees to arrange a nesting place in the proposed place, she stays near him or visits this place at dusk.

The old nests of woodpeckers usually serve as nests for the sparrow's son. The tree used for nesting is either coniferous or birch, aspen or beech. The pair tidies up the nest before the female lays eggs. The size of the clutch varies depending on the feeding conditions. In Russia, there are usually 2-3 eggs in a clutch, in Western Europe - from 4 to 7 eggs. The eggs are white, matte, about 28 mm x 23 mm in size. Postponement occurs at intervals of 2 days. Sparrow's eagle is one of the few owl species that does not begin hatching until the last egg has been laid. Incubation lasts 28-29 days, the female leaves the nest for a short time only in the evening or in the morning in order to eat. The male brings the food. During incubation, the female enlarges the nest, pulling out small pieces from the walls of the hollow with her beak.

With small chicks, the female stays in the nest for 9-10 days. At this time, their eyes open. Small chicks are covered with white down, which then changes to dark brown plumage, darker than that of adult birds. The male continues to bring food, which the female takes from him not far from the nest and carries it to the chicks. After about three weeks, chicks begin to peek out of the nest, and the female flies to the nest only to feed them or clean the nest. Chicks begin to leave the nest on the 30–34th day.

3-4 days after this, the female leaves the nest with the chicks, but continues to feed them for about a week, and then alternates with the male, who after a while takes care of the growing offspring entirely on himself and carries it out for 4-6 weeks, after which chicks leave the parent. This usually occurs in August, at the 11-12th week of life. In a young bird, chicks can appear at the age of 9-10 months, but they reach final maturity in one year.

Security measures

The general estimate is 1200-2000 pairs, i.e. about 6% of the European population. Population trends are not clear. Global and regional climate warming, leading to aridization of landscapes, a shift of boreal plant complexes to the north may negatively affect the state of the Belarusian population of this species.There is also a reduction in the areas of its preferred habitats due to the massive drying up of spruce and the associated clear-cuttings of high-aged spruce forests.

The species has been included in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus since 1993. Maximum preservation of areas of tall spruce forests and complex mixed-age mixed forests with hollow trees. A special study of the distribution, habitats, population dynamics and ecology features of the species.