Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Central American Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium griseiceps)


French: Chevêchette à tête grise German: Graukopf-Zwergkauz Spanish: Mochuelo centroamericano

Glaucidium griseiceps


, 1875,

tropical lowlands of Alta Vera Paz, Guatemala


Considered a member of G. minutissimum complex, which includes also G. palmarum, G. sanchezi, G. parkeri and G. hardyi; further study needed to determine true relationships. Recently separated from G. minutissimum on basis of vocalizations. Racial differentiation uncertain, and occultum and rarum may be no more than colour variants; species regarded by some as monotypic#R#R#R; more study required. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. g. occultum R. T. Moore, 1947 – S Mexico (SE Veracruz, N Oaxaca and Chiapas).
  • G. g. griseiceps Sharpe, 1875 – Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.
  • G. g. rarum Griscom, 1931 – Costa Rica, Panama, NW Colombia and NW Ecuador#R#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–18 cm; male 50·6–58·8 g, female c. 56 g. Very small pygmy-owl; crown and nape brown-grey to grey-brown; forecrown with fine pale buff to whitish... read more


    Song begins with 2–4 equally spaced hoots, followed by very brief pause, then series of 6... read more


    Humid tropical evergreen forest and adjacent tall secondary growth, semi-open areas, old cacao... read more

    Food and feeding

    Poorly known. Probably large insects and other invertebrates such as spiders, reptiles such as lizards, small birds such as tanagers and... read more


    Very little information. Reported to lay from Apr–May and to nest in natural tree cavity or old woodpecker hole; clutch size 2–... read more


    Presumably resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. In Mexico generally uncommon but locally fairly common, e.g. near Valle Nacional (Oaxaca), and around the Mayan ruins of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holt, D.W., Berkley, R., Deppe, C., Enríquez Rocha, P., Petersen, J.L., Rangel Salazar, J.L., Segars, K.P., Wood, K.L., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Central American Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium griseiceps). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 November 2019).