Northern Pygmy-Owl
(Glaucidium gnoma)


Picture of bird
© Kirk Davis
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Northern Pygmy-Owl is a year-round resident of coniferous and deciduous forests in British Columbia and southwestern Alberta. It is at the northern edge of its range in Canada and is very uncommon. Results from the Christmas Bird Count and the Breeding Bird Survey suggest that the national population of Northern Pygmy-Owls has increased relative to about 1970. The species is likely affected by loss of mature forest and nesting cavities, but negative population-level effects have not been documented in Canada. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Little is known of the threats facing the Northern Pygmy-Owl in Canada. It is an obligate cavity nester, and may be adversely affected by loss of snags, veteran trees, other trees with existing cavities, and mature forest (Holt and Petersen 2000). It inhabits regions where intensive logging is ongoing but negative effects have not yet been documented for the species in Canada. Another possible threat facing the Northern Pygmy-Owl is the range expansion of the Barred Owl in western Canada (Darling 2003, Holm et al. 2016). Barred Owls are known predators of small owls and likely also compete for nest cavities (Holm et al. 2016).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship