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Flammulated Owl Otus flammeolus


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Flammulated Owl
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Family: Strigidae, Owls view all from this family

Description ADULT Has plumage color overall that varies from reddish brown in southeast of range to gray-brown in north. Upperparts have fine dark markings and gray and whitish spots and patches creating barklike appearance; note row of rufous-tipped or -flushed scapular feathers. Underparts have dark streaks and fine dark barring. Eyes are dark and grayish facial disc has subtly darker concentric rings and is variably flushed reddish brown. JUVENILE Similar to adult.

Dimensions Length: 6-7" (15-18 cm)

Habitat Fairly common, but easily overlooked summer visitor to mountain forests, mainly pine. Winters in Central American highlands.

Observation Tips Strictly nocturnal, unobtrusive habits, and retiring nature, make this a difficult species to find. Best chances come from learning the vocalizations and tracking down a calling bird after dark with the aid of a powerful flashlight; beware, however, Flammulateds are good ventriloquists, so this is not an easy task. Otherwise, befriend a birder who knows the species well. Almost impossible to find when not calling.

Range Texas, Western Canada, Northwest, Rocky Mountains, California, Southwest

Voice Surprisingly loud and deep for so small a species; comprises a series of well-spaced, piping poo-poo-poo notes.

Discussion Tiny, plump-bodied owl with a proportionately large head, rounded facial disc, and small "ear" tufts. Plumage markings resemble tree bark and afford bird superb camouflage when resting close to trunk. Nests and often roosts in tree holes, hence extremely hard to find during daytime. Sexes are similar.