Bird of the Week, March 2, 2012
Flammulated Owl

Flammulated Owl by Michael Woodruff


This tiny, sparrow-sized owl (it measures just under seven inches long) is notable for its dark eyes and short, feathered ear tufts.  Flammulated Owls are strictly nocturnal and most active in the hour after sunset and the hour before sunrise.


Interestingly, this owl preys almost entirely on insects, which may explain why it is migratory (one of the few migratory owl species in North America). The Flammulated Owl retreats to southern parts of its range, and even as far south as Guatemala and El Salvador in the winter.


Flammulated Owls generally nest in old woodpecker holes or cavities in dead trees (snags), but will use nest boxes where provided. They have one of the lowest reproductive rates of North American owls, which may limit population size. Habitat loss is a potential threat, particularly the loss of nesting cavities due to logging and removal of snags.


ABC has conducted ponderosa pine habitat management  in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho, and leads landowner education and outreach efforts for priority cavity-nesting species such as the Flammulated Owl, Lewis’s Woodpecker, and White-headed Woodpecker.  ABC has also produced Landowners Stories in Bird Conservation: Managing for Cavity-Nesting Birds in Ponderosa Pine Forests, which highlights the work of private landowners to incorporate conservation measures for cavity-nesting birds on their properties.




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Photo: Michael Woodruff; Range Map, NatureServe