I really love working with the wildlife on Grouse Mountain because you really don't know what every day is going to bring. For example, this morning I got to our wildlife office and was standing at the sink washing some dishes when all of a sudden I noticed a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye. Glancing to my right I found myself staring face to face with a Northern Pygmy Owl sitting on our dish shelf.
I think we were both surprised! He had somehow entered the building and was looking for a way out. It's not an uncommon part of my job to remove stray birds from buildings, but this is the first time I've had to help an owl back outside.
Without much ordeal I was able to pick-up the little guy and bring him outside the building and release him. He then flew to a nearby branch and fluffed himself up indignantly, as if to say 'how dare you' and proceeded to rearrange his feathers. While he preened and orientated himself I was able to take a few more photos to show you more of this amazing bird.
Northern Pygmy-Owl's (Glaucidium gnoma) are small (7-8 inches long) forest owls that inhabit the west coast of North America. Unlike most other owls they are diurnal (hunting during the day) and have been seen, and heard, up here on Grouse in the past.
One of the coolest features of the Northern Pygmy-Owl is the markings on the back of its head. There are black dots, surrounded by white highlights that are meant to imitate eyes and intimidate predators. The markings give an impression that this little fighter is always on guard.
Northern Pygmy-Owl's hunt mice, large insects and the occasional small bird and because they have evolved to hunt during the day, this owl does not have the same sense of hearing or night vision of its nocturnal brethren.
Next time you are up here, be sure to listen for the clear, high pitched repeating notes that are made by this fascinating owl.