Birdlife of Cuba: Cuban Pygmy Owl

July 26, 2013

The diminutive Cuban pygmy owl lives exclusively on Cuba, but they make their homes in a variety of forest habitats across the Caribbean island. The IUCN Red List classifies this species as one of Least Concern, which means there is a healthy number of these endemic  winged creatures living all over the island of Cuba. So there's a good chance you'll spot at least one of these tiny birds when you join IE’s people-to-people Cuba tour.

Cuban pygmy owls can live comfortably in dry or tropical forests as well as in more terrestrial habitats such as farmlands and plantations. This makes it pretty easy to come across these birds when you're traveling through the lush countryside with International Expeditions. Plus, unlike many other owl species, the Cuban pygmy owl is not strictly nocturnal. These birds will hunt for food pretty much whenever it suits them, whether the sun's up or it is the middle of the night. Their menu is eclectic considering they are strictly carnivores. The diet of the Cuban pygmy owl consists mostly of insects, lizards and smaller birds.

These birds have very distinct features that will make it easy to spot them, even though there are other species of owls that live in Cuba. The bird's chest is mostly white with vertical bars of alternating light and dark brown patches. In fact, this almost-striped appearance extends to the bird's shoulders and wings. The top of its head is dark chocolate brown with flecks of white that look almost like sesame seeds atop a bun, and this pattern continues on the cheeks and neck. If you see the owl from behind, you may think you're staring into a set of very angry, dark eyes. However, these are simply a defense mechanism to scare off predators and make it easier to pick the bird out from the crowd. It also has a set of large, bright yellow eyes that match its thin yellow beak and feathered talons.

Cuban pygmy owls are just one of the birds you may encounter when you travel to Cuba. Many other birds call the island nation home, making it an exciting destination for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers alike.
 

 

Click here to learn more about Cuba's endemic birdlife