RESEARCH FOCUS: NORTHERN PYGMY OWLS

NORTHERN PYGMY OWL RESEARCH PROJECT

Although our breeding season study of Northern Pygmy Owls began in 1981, it was not officially organized until 1985.  Since then we have focused our research efforts on finding and monitoring natural nest-sites in western Montana, which can be a difficult task.  To date we have documented 35 natural nest-sites and are in the process of analyzing and writing up our research results, which we believe will have important implications for forest management snag retention policies.  

Northern Pygmy Owls are associated with a wide variety of coniferous and deciduous forest habitats in western North America. They can occur from near tree line to river bottoms. It was once believed that all owl species hatch their eggs asynchronously (in the order laid). However, some studies suggested Pygmy Owls may hatch eggs synchronously, or nearly so. We have documented novel observations of egg laying and incubation, nestling growth and development, and fledging which provide important information about their life histories. 

The Northern Pygmy Owl is listed as Sensitive by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program (D Becker, pers. comm.).