Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Flammulated Owl (Psiloscops flammeolus)


French: Petit-duc nain German: Ponderosaeule Spanish: Autillo flamulado

Scops (Megascops) flammeola


, 1853,



DNA analyses indicated sister relationship between this species and New World Megascops (rather than with Old World Otus)#R#R; it lacks the trilled song typical of Megascops. Longer-winged population in N part of range sometimes separated subspecifically as idahoensis and darker birds from Guatemalan highlands described as rarus, but individual plumage variation appears to be continuous and biometric differences possibly clinal; other races proposed from S Mexico and Guatemala (meridionalis), Colorado (frontalis) and C British Columbia to NE California (borealis); exact type locality of species, however, apparently unknown, making objective use of subspecific names problematic. Treated as monotypic.


Breeds from SW Canada (SC British Columbia) S to NW & SW USA and NE, W & C Mexico (and E in highlands to S Puebla, and NE Oaxaca). Winters C & S Mexico to Guatemala and El Salvador#R.

Descriptive notes

16–17 cm; male 44–66 g, female 44–100 g (highest during egg laying). Occurs in grey-brown and rufous morphs, with many intermediates and much individual... read more


Rather deep, hollow, short “hoop”, singly or repeated at intervals of 2–3 seconds... read more


Primarily open coniferous forest in mountains, especially ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa... read more

Food and feeding

Almost entirely nocturnal insects, especially owlet moths (Noctuidae), beetles, and crickets and grasshoppers; in observation in Colorado,... read more


Season May–Aug. Typically monogamous, but extra-pair copulations occur, and one documented case of polygyny in which male in Colorado... read more


Still poorly understood. Elevational and translatitudinal migration hypothesized for N populations... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Fairly common in mountains of W North America, but considered sensitive in USA and vulnerable in Canada; in Mexico fairly... 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. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Flammulated Owl (Psiloscops flammeolus). 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 18 January 2020).