Collared owlet

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Collared owlet
Collared Owlet1.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Glaucidium
G. brodiei
Binomial name
Glaucidium brodiei
(Burton, 1836)

The collared owlet (Glaucidium brodiei), also known as the collared pygmy owl,[2] is a species of owl in the family Strigidae. Its natural habitat is submontane and montane forests with open spaces[3] and is distributed throughout oriental Asia.[4] It is the smallest owl in Asia, at 15 cm (5.9 in) and 60 g (2.1 oz).[3][5]


The collared owlet was first described in 1836 as Noctua brodiei by the English zoologist Edward Burton.[6] It was moved to the genus Glaucidium based on a comparison of mitochondrial DNA sequences and proved to be closely related to the jungle owlet (Glaucidium radiatum) and the Asian barred owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides).[7]

Two subspecies are recognised:[8]

  • G. b. brodiei (Burton, 1836) – Himalayas to south China south through Indochina and the Malay Peninsula
  • G. b. pardalotum (Swinhoe, 1863) – Taiwan

The Sunda owlet (Glaucidium sylvaticum) was formerly treated as a subspecies of the collared owlet. It was promoted to species status based on the results of a vocalisation study published in 2019.[8][9]


The collared owlet, being Asia's smallest owl species, measures between 15 and 17 cm.[5] Females are generally larger than the males, weighing approximately 63 grams, whereas males weigh in at 52 grams.[3]

This bird has a grey-brown colour (depending on age-morph) and has a barred back and flanks, while the head is more spotted than barred.[10] They have prominent white eyebrows, vibrant lemon-yellow-coloured eyes and a white throat patch.[11] The chin, center of the breast and belly are mostly white.[5] The pale collar and the two black spots on each side of the nape imitate eye spots and make it seem like the owl is staring at you from behind. This is known as the "occipital face". It has a greyish-brown pale-spotted pectoral band on upper breast and lacks ear-tufts.[3] You can see its tail when in flight, longer than most pygmy owls, and has rapid wingbeats.[5]

Colour morphs[edit]

Collared owlets transition through various age-dependent colour morphs. A capture-recapture study of collared owlets in Taiwan provided evidence of this. On the first capture, the individual was 56 days old and showed fledgling colour morph stage; having less spots and barring on the back and top of the head and not having a completely formed occipital. On the second recapture, the individual was captured 165 days after hatching and demonstrated a rufous morph; having an overall orange-red colour, barred back, spots on the head and a formed occipital. On the third recapture, the individual was 394 days old and was in its final grey morph.[4]


The collared owlet has very unusual but distinctive vocalizations. The male produces a 4-note phrase "wüp-wüwü-wüp" repeated at intervals of a few seconds, sometimes having incomplete phrases ending in "wüwü".[3] Their call starts mellow and becomes shriller with excitement[12] while turning their head in all directions, creating a ventriloquial effect and making it hard to locate the bird.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The collared owlet is a resident bird in its range.


The collared owlet has a very large range occurring in the Himalayas of northern Pakistan all the way to eastern China and Taiwan. Its range extends southwards through Malaysia.[3][2] This bird can be found in the following countries: Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand and Viet Nam.[13]


Their preferred habitat varies from evergreen forests, forest edges,[5] mixed deciduous-evergreen forests with oak, rhododendron and fir[14] and open woodlands with scrub.[2] They can be found in submontane and montane habitats varying between 1350–2750 meters in altitude, but they have also been seen near cultivated lands as low as 700 meters in altitude.[3]

Species in the genus Glaucidium are secondary cavity-nesters. For example, the Asian barred owlet was found to use the nest cavity of a collared scops owl once it was no longer using the nest.[15] As for its other close relative, a study showed that the jungle owlet was found active in a secondary cavity nest in riparian forests.[16] Just like the collared owlet's relatives, this small owl does not create its own nest, but rather nests in natural tree hollows or chambers created by woodpeckers and barbets.[17]

Collared Owlet

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Compared to other owls in the genus Glaucidium, the collared owlet is most active during daylight. Being diurnal, this bird can be seen perching, hunting and calling during most parts of the day, and sometimes during the night.[14] It is often mobbed by other small birds when roosting.[5]


Although not much is known about the reproductive methods of the collared owlet, it is believed that the mating couple only remains together during the period of breeding season, which is from March to April.[5]

As mentioned previously, they nest in natural tree hollows or holes created by woodpeckers or barbets, which are often very rotten and found high in tree trunks that are in a clearing or in an open area in the forest.[3] The eggs are laid between late April and mid-June and their young are fledged from mid-June to early August.[4] Clutch size varies between 3 and 5 hatchlings, and their eggs are round and white.[3]

Food and feeding[edit]

Few studies has precisely identified the exact diet of the collared owlet, but we can presume that it is similar to the diet of its closest relative, the jungle owlet. The jungle owlet is seen to prey on small mammals such as house mice, little Indian field mice, brown spiny mice and white-toothed pygmy shrews; reptiles such as skinks; birds; amphibians and many invertebrates.[18] Therefore, the diet of the collared owlet consists mainly on small birds, insect, lizards, invertebrates and small mammals.[2] Although its small size, this raptor is extremely fierce and has been seen to capture prey as large as itself. Once their prey is captured, it is brought to a perch by its talons and torn up with upward pulls of the bill.[3]


Although the collared owlet is at least concern on the IUCN Red list,[13] its main threat is habitat loss. In a study examining the effects of fragmentation on nocturnal birds in Asia, collared owlets were never found in forest fragments smaller than 100 hectares.[19] The authors concluded that anthropogenic pressures such as deforestation can affect even small species such as the collared owlet.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Glaucidium brodiei". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Mikkola, Heimo (2012). Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide. United States: Firefly Books. p. 364. ISBN 978-1-77085-136-8.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k König, Claus; Weick, Friedhelm (2008). Owls of the World (Second ed.). London: Christopher Helm. pp. 394–395. ISBN 978-0-7136-6548-2.
  4. ^ a b c Lin, Wen-Loung; Lin, Si-Min; Tseng, Hui-Yun (2014-07-26). "Colour Morphs in the Collared Pygmy OwlGlaucidium brodieiare Age-Related, not a Polymorphism". Ardea. 102 (1): 95–99. doi:10.5253/078.102.0115. ISSN 0373-2266.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Taylor, Marianne (2012). Owls. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-4081-5553-0.
  6. ^ "Glaucidium brodiei (Collared Owlet) - Avibase". Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  7. ^ Sun, Xiaonan; Zhou, Wenliang; Sun, Zhonglou; Qian, Lifu; Zhang, Yanan; Pan, Tao; Zhang, Baowei (2015). "The complete mitochondrial genome of Glaucidium brodiei (Strigiformes: Strigidae)". Mitochondrial DNA. 27 (4): 2508–2509. doi:10.3109/19401736.2015.1036252.
  8. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (2020). "Owls". IOC World Bird List Version 10.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  9. ^ Gwee, C.Y.; Eaton, J.A.; Ng, E.Y.X.; Rheindt, F.E. (2019). "Species delimitation within the Glaucidium brodiei owlet complex using bioacoustic tools". Avian Research. 10 (36). doi:10.1186/s40657-019-0175-4.
  10. ^ Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol; Inskipp, Tim (2012). Birds of India: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives (Second ed.). United States: Princeton University Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-691-15349-0.
  11. ^ König, Claus; Weick, Friedhelm; Becking, Jan-Hendrik (1999). Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World. United States: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-07920-3.
  12. ^ Taylor, Marianne (2016). Brazier, Hugh (ed.). Owls: A Guide to Every Species in the World. United States: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-06-241388-8.
  13. ^ a b "Glaucidium brodiei (Collared Owlet)". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2018-10-14.
  14. ^ a b Burton, John A., ed. (1992). Owls of the World: their evolution, structure and ecology (Third ed.). England: Peter Lowe. ISBN 978-0-85654-657-0.
  15. ^ Leadprathom, Kumron; Chimchome, Vijak; Bumrungsri, Sara (December 2009). "Nesting Ecology of the Collared Scops OwlOtus lettiain Thailand". Ardea. 97 (4): 457–461. doi:10.5253/078.097.0409. ISSN 0373-2266.
  16. ^ Manikandan, Perumal; Balasubramanian, Paramasivam (July 2018). "Sequential Use of Tree Cavities by Birds and Nest Web in a Riparian Forest in Southwest India". Acta Ornithologica. 53 (1): 49–60. doi:10.3161/00016454ao2018.53.1.005. ISSN 0001-6454.
  17. ^ Alderton, David (2012). The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Leicestershire: Lorenz Books. pp. 398. ISBN 978-0-7548-2166-3.
  18. ^ Mehta, Prachi; Kulkarni, Jayant; Talmale, Shyamakant; Chandarana, Ridhi (September 2018). "Diets of Sympatric Forest Owlets, Spotted Owlets, and Jungle Owlets in East Kalibhit Forests, Madhya Pradesh, India". Journal of Raptor Research. 52 (3): 338–348. doi:10.3356/jrr-17-00002.1. ISSN 0892-1016.
  19. ^ k.Dayananda, Salindra; Goodale, Eben; Lee, Myung-bok; Liu, Jia-Jia; Mammides, Christos; o.Pasion, Bonifacio; Quan, Rui-Chang; Slik, J.W.Ferry; Sreekar, Rachakonda; w.Tomlinson, Kyle; Yasuda, Mika (2016). "Effects of forest fragmentation on nocturnal Asian birds: A case study from Xishuangbanna, China - 中国学术期刊网络出版总库". Zoological Research. 37 (3 vo 37): 151–158. doi:10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.3.151. PMC 4914578. PMID 27265653.

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