Fr: Chevêchette de Cuba
Ang: Cuban Pygmy-Owl
All: Kubazwergkauz
Esp: Mochuelo Sijú
Ita: Civettina di Cuba
Nd: Cubaanse Dwerguil
Sd: kubasparvuggla

Photographers:

Ken Havard
His Bird Pictures on IBC et Flickr gallery

William Price
PBase-tereksandpiper & Flickr William Price  

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 5 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334253

BIRDS OF THE WEST INDIES – by Herbert Raffaele, Kristin Williams et Tracy Pedersen – Helm – ISBN: 9780713649055

OWLS OF THE   WORLD – By Claus König, Friedhelm Weick and Jan-Hendrik Becking - IBSN 978-0-7136-6548-2

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

BirdLife International

HBW Alive

Neotropical Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Birds of Cuba

Cuba Naturaleza

Authentic Cuba – Birds of Cuba

 

Home page

Page Order Strigiformes

Summary cards

 

Cuban Pygymy-Owl
Glaucidium siju

Strigiformes Order – Strigidae Family

INTRODUCTION:
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl is included in the tribe Surniini, subfamily Surniinae, within the large family Strigidae. The owls of genus Glaucidium are small, with diurnal and nocturnal habits.
This species is endemic to Cuba where it is common in semi-open woodlands and tree plantations. It nests in tree holes during the dry season.
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl is not globally threatened.  

DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD:
Biometrics:
Length: 16-17 cm
Weight: 50-100 g

The Cuban Pygmy-Owl is a tiny, plump owl with big head and large yellow eyes. There are two colour morphs, grey-brown and rufous.
The grey-brown morph has greyish-brown upperparts with irregular whitish and buff spots and indistinct bars on mantle. The flight-feathers are barred white and dark grey-brown. The tail is brownish-grey with 5-6 narrow, buffy-white bars.
The underparts are white with dense brownish barring on upperbreast sides. There is an unmarked white area extending from throat to lower breast. Rest of underparts show brown spotting and streaking.

On the rounded head, the ear-tufts are absent. Crown and head sides are greyish-brown with small whitish spots. On the nape, there are two blackish “false eyes” bordered whitish above and ochre-buff below. The facial disk is pale greyish-brown with indistinct dark speckles and narrow, whitish eyebrows.
The bill is yellowish to horn-coloured. The large eyes are yellow. The tarsi are feathered white and the bare toes are yellow with sharp, dark claws.

Male and female have similar plumage, but the female is slightly larger, on average more than 20 grams heavier than male.
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl in rufous morph has reddish-brown coloration overall.
The juvenile resembles adult, but it has unspotted crown.

SUBSPECIES AND RANGE:
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl has three recognized subspecies.
G.s. siju is found in Cuba, except Pico Turquino.
G.s. turquinense occurs in Pico Turquino (1974 metres), in SW Santiago de Cuba, Province of SE Cuba.  
G.s. vittatum is found on Isle of Pines. This one is larger, with more heavily barred upperparts.

HABITAT:
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl frequents semi-open woodlands, coastal, deciduous and montane forests, forest edges, tree plantations, parks with mature trees, open areas with scattered trees and cultivated fields. This species occurs from sea-level up to 1500 metres of elevation.

The Cuban Pygmy-Owl is often seen in pairs, but mates are usually distant from one another. It has the peculiar habit of turning its head, in order to display the “false eyes” of the nape. It has an extremely flexible neck, and is able to turn its head almost completely around.
The “false eyes” are probably used to escape the attention of predators, giving the impression that the owl is looking at them.

The male probably sings at the beginning of the breeding season. Courtship feeding is usually common in Strigidae. They are monogamous and nest in tree holes.

The Cuban Pygmy-Owl is resident. It only flies over short distances on stubby, rounded wings.

REPRODUCTION OF THIS SPECIES:
The breeding season takes place during the dry period, between December and April.
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl nest in cavities in trees, and often uses a tree hole abandoned by a woodpecker.

The female lays 3-4 white eggs and incubates alone. She is probably fed by its mate during this period. At hatching, the chicks have white down.

PROTECTION / THREATS / STATUS:
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl is common within its range. The species is threatened by destruction of small woodland patches.
The population is currently stable, and the Cuban Pygmy-Owl is evaluated as Least Concern.

CALLS AND SONGS: SOUNDS BY XENO-CANTO
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl utters repeated, irregular, low “uh,uh,uh…” short, plaintive notes. During the breeding season, the male gives an unusual call “hui-hui-chiii-chiii-chi-chi-chi…” starting softly and progressively increasing in frequency and tone.  

BEHAVIOUR IN THE WILD:
The Cuban Pygmy-Owl is active both night and day. It feeds on large insects such as moths, small reptiles (lizards), and may take small mammals and small birds.
Like numerous owls, it hunts from perch, swooping down onto the prey on the ground.