Northern Pygmy Owl -Glaucidium gnoma
I have been wanting to do a watercolor of one of these wee fellows for some time now. I didn't work on one at the museum. They are native to areas west of the Rockies, and most of what I deal with are local species of birds. A friend of mine from when I worked at the Newberry Library contacted me recently and wanted to commission a painting as a gift for someone. He wasn't sure what to request, and we came to the conclusion that it's hard to go wrong with owls.
One of the interesting aspects of pygmy owls is that they have a pair of false eye spots. They have two dark patches rimmed in white on the rear of their heads. According to the Birds Of North America site, there isn't a whole lot that is known about pygmies other than that they are probably North America's smallest species of owl (measuring 6.75 inches from head to tail), and that they are fearless and very aggressive hunters of small passerine birds and mammals.