Sparrow Owl (detective)- A very small (the size of a starling Sturnus vulgaris) owl with a relatively large flattened head. The front disc is similar to that of a house owl, but with more pronounced concentric circles formed by white specks, although they are lost against the background of a brown coloration of the neck and head. Between the eyes there are often clear ridges of white feathers in the form of vertical crescent-shaped eyebrows facing “horns” from the beak inside the facial disc, although they are usually dark from below and only their upper part, forming the half-eyebrows, is expressed. The small feathers above the beak are always dark. The iris of the eyes is yellow, the pupils are black. Bill is yellow or grayish yellow. The color of the top is brown with numerous round white spots, small on the head, and large on the back. In a flying bird from above, on a dark background of the wing, 2 white stripes formed by the white tops of large and medium coverts are clearly visible. The bottom is light with dark streaks. On the belly, the mottles are narrow longitudinal, on the sides of the chest - triangular or teardrop-shaped, much thicker than the abdominal ones. Tail with 5 narrow light transverse stripes. The lower covering wings are light, on the secondary flywheels below 4 dark stripes (3 narrow and wide terminal).
Females are larger than males, painted the same.
Weight - 0.051-0.085 kg, length - 15-18 cm, male wing - 9.3-10.5 cm, females - 10.0-11.0 cm, wingspan - 34-38 cm.
The young ones are similar to adults, from which they are distinguished by a smaller number of speckles on the top of the body and their buffy coloring, evenly worn fly and steering.
Downy chicks in the first outfit are grayish-white, in the second - uniformly brownish-brown from above, without speckles. The front disc is not pronounced and is close to the color of the head (only slightly lighter). Around the eyes are unclear interrupted “glasses” of white fluff (usually only oblique eyebrows and a white stripe under the beak are visible, framed by dark stripes (“mustaches”) obliquely extending from the beak. The color of the bottom is light. The upper part of the chest is darker than the belly due to the larger intensities of brownish longitudinal streaks. On the abdomen brownish longitudinal streaks rare. The bill is light gray or yellowish gray. In general, the mesoptiles in the bottom look much lighter than all other owls of the same age.
The flight is fluttering, lighter than other owls, undulating. A flying bird in flight occasionally folds its wings for a second, like woodpeckers.
It most resembles a house owl, from which it is distinguished by its smaller size, large and less flattened head, white specks on the facial disc, forming concentric circles around the eyes, dark throat, spotting nature of the lower body (the house owl has the same shape and wider). , differs from splyuska by the absence of feather ears, the pattern of the front disc, the more yellow beak, the cross-strikers crossed across, the tail long relative to the wings (the ends of the folded wings of a sitting passerine owl lie about tail, in splyushki completely cover the tail).
Chicks in the second downy outfit differ from those of owls in a light bottom, monochromatic without a speckled top, from a slinky bird in a monophonic brownish-brown top, in a speckled character (in a spyushka, the longitudinal speckles are crossed out by thinner transverse ones), from the gray owl - by small sizes, yellow eyes.
The male current signal is a low-frequency whistle “pii ... ..pii .... pii”, or “poo ... poo ... poo” (reminiscent of the bullfinch's whistle Pyrrhula pyrrhula, but louder and not so jerky), with strong excitement, often a two-syllable “pee-pee” ....... pee ... .. "or" pee ... pee ... pee ... ". The interval between sounds in a current song is 1-3 seconds. With anxiety, the whistle is more abrupt "peak" or "fart" and can often be heard in the daytime. Chicks make hoarse deaf and longer squeaks. At night, similar to the signals of a passerine owl, they make sounds of a spit, chicks of a long-eared owl and variegated thrush (Zoothera dauma). The current signals of the passerine owl differ from the nuptial cry of splyushka in their monotonous character (the change in tonality is perceptible in each syllable) and lower in volume, from the cries of chicks of an eared owl and song of a variegated thrush - in monotony, abruptness and short pauses between syllables (variegated thrush is more lingering, quiet to the end, whistles with significantly greater pauses between them in the song, and chicks of a long-eared owl - voiced, lingering downward whistles).
Sparrow sychik is a taiga species. It nests only in forests, mainly in conifers, although in the coniferous forest distribution zone it also populates old deciduous areas with high density.
Favorite nesting biotopes of the passerine owl are old cluttered coniferous forests, both in the valleys and in the watersheds: in the European part and in the Urals, mainly spruce forests, in Siberia, pine forests and larch forests.
Sychik is a typical hollow nest. The main suppliers of the hollow for him are the large motley and three-fingered woodpeckers, to a lesser extent gray-haired woodpecker.
Most of the hollows occupied by the detective are in aspen, spruce, pine and birch at an altitude of 3-16 m, an average of 4.5 m.
Unlike other hollow-nests, the sparrow syringe unmasks the occupied hollows by the fact that after hatching the chicks cleans them, completely throwing all the contents out (egg shells, riddles). In some cases, under the hollow, puzzles accumulate even during the incubation of masonry.
In clutch 4-6, less often 7-8 eggs, white in color, similar to the eggs of a leggy owl, but smaller. Egg size: 27.0-31.5x21.7x24.5 mm, an average of 28.71x22.46 mm.
The female, with her anxiety on the nest, flies out, sits nearby and whistles, often at a fairly close distance from the person.
The distance between the nests of different pairs in dense nesting groups varies from 100 to 900 m, usually being 500 m, in less saturated ones - 1-3 km, on average 2 km.
A characteristic feature is the storage of feed in the autumn-winter period. At this time, sometimes significant stocks from frozen corpses of mouse-like rodents, shrews and small tits accumulate in areas of an owl in hollows.
The ridges of the owl are small, varying slightly in size (1.3-2.8x1.0 cm), round or cylindrical in shape with both rounded ends, or one rounded and the other pointed. Contain the remains of the 1st victim, less often 2. Most of the puzzle consists of the remains of small mouse-like rodents. If the riddles contain the remains of birds, their feathers are strongly digested and stick together, forming a dense lump of gray color. The pawls, paws, beaks and wings of birds or full skeletons of rodents with whole skulls are present.
Rarely in winter can you see traces of owls. When hunting small mammals, the detective after an unsuccessful throw sometimes catches up with the victim in jumps, leaving paired footprints in the snow. The footprints are small. Paw print size: 3.3-3.9x2.0-2.5 cm, inner finger length 1.7-1.8 cm, middle finger length 2.2-2.4 cm, outer finger length 1 , 7-1.8 cm, the length of the back finger is about 0.9 cm.
The best results are obtained by counting detectives in the midst of their current - in March. In April, the current decays, and then they are detected only during the activation of their voice activity by playing phonograms or simulating voice signals.
During summer daytime routes, the best detection method is to examine nestable habitats for nests. In this case, trees are inspected, in which the location of the hollow is very likely. If a hollow is found, the size of the owl should be inspected at the foot of the tree. A sparrow syringe makes its hollows noticeable by the time the chicks hatch, completely throwing all their contents out (egg shells, puzzles). Therefore, they are more easily searched than the nests of the boreal owl and splyuska. In addition, in the summer, especially after the departure of the chicks, the owls actively react in the daytime both to an imitation of their cries of anxiety, or signals of the long-tailed owl and the owl, and to the person himself. Often they whistle at the sight of a person sitting near a nest or brood, and give themselves away long before you get close to them.
Using knowledge of the peculiarities of the behavior of detectives, it is possible to successfully identify them in the daytime in the summer, while simultaneously duplicating the method of examining nest-suitable trees by imitating anxiety signals. The effectiveness of this method is quite high.
The whole territory of Belarus
Owl Family - Strigidae
In Belarus - G. p. passerinum (subspecies inhabits the entire European part of the range of the species). Variation of the species has been studied in its most general terms; subspecies affiliation requires additional study (V. Grichik).
Small nesting sedentary species. It is found throughout.
The smallest of our owls. The upper body is dark brown with light spots, the bottom is whitish-gray with longitudinal blackish mottles. There are no "ears", the top of the head is densely dotted with small white spots, whitish "eyebrows" above the eyes. Tail with three transverse white stripes and a white top. The plumage of the paws to the claws is whitish-gray. Eyes are relatively small, their iris is yellow. The beak is waxy in color, the nails are dark brown. The weight of the male is 54-65 g, the female is 63-103 g. The body length of the male is 15-17, the female is 17-19 cm, the wingspan of the male is 34-36, the female is 37-39 cm.
Outside of nesting times, it is sometimes found in deciduous forests, parks, and even settlements. Voice - monotonous whistling "tyu. Tyu. ", Similar to the whistle of a bullfinch.
In Belarus, it nests in coniferous forests, especially tall spruce forests. Due to its small size, the bird easily and willingly populates the hollow of the large motley woodpecker, sometimes nests in natural voids, and occasionally it can occupy artificial hollows.
Marriage cries are observed in March - April. Due to the secretive lifestyle of this bird, its nesting in Belarus is almost not studied. 1st find of the nest: 04/15/1990, a nest with a hatching bird in the vicinity of the village of Turov, Zhitkovichi district, Gomel region. 2nd find of the nest: 06/19/1991, a nest with large chicks in the okr. Lake Lisno
Rossonsky District, Vitebsk Region the first nest was found on 06/19/1991 with large chicks in the Rossonsky district of the Vitebsk region. Nests with masonry of two pairs were found in 2003 in the Logoisk district of Minsk region.
In a complete clutch, usually 5-6 eggs, often 4, clutches of 7-8 eggs are also found. The shape of the eggs is ellipsoidal or shortened ellipsoid. The shell is white, slightly shiny. Egg weight 8 g, length 31 mm, diameter 24 mm.
In Central Europe, the appearance of fresh clutches occurs in April - early May. There is one brood in a year. The female incubates, extremely densely (does not even respond to blows on the trunk), about 28 days. Unlike other hollow-nests, immediately after the hatching of the chicks, it immediately throws out the shell of eggs, riddles, bird feathers and other litter directly from the letka, and thereby unmasks the location of the nest. At the age of about 30 days, chicks fly out of the nest.
The sparrow syring is active mainly in the night and twilight hours, but in autumn and winter it can hunt during the day. In NP "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" a sparrow synergy is active for various hours of the day all year.
The basis of the nutrition of this bird is mouse-like rodents, with a low number of main feed it catches small birds and shrews.
Small mammals (78.1% of the studied feed samples) represented exclusively by shrews (51.6%) and mouse-like rodents (26.5%) play the main role in the feeding of the owl in Belovezhskaya Pushcha throughout the year. A significant place in the diet of the owl is occupied by the red-backed vole, accounting for 89.4% of the rodents eaten by it. The rest of the rodents in its feed are represented by mice, arable and water voles. From insectivorous detective approximately equally produces common and small shrew. Given that in the Bialowieza Forest small shrew is relatively rare, we can assume that the passerine owl has a positive selectivity in relation to this type of feed.
Birds, which make up 21.9% of the food of the passerine owl in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, are represented in its diet mainly by the titmouse — the great tit, Muscovite, and gadget (marked only once). Once upon a time, zaryanka, oak-tree and big spotted woodpecker were also noted. A yellow-headed kinglet is marked six times, a pied flycatcher 3 times, and a small spotted woodpecker 2 times.
Sychik preys mainly small species of both birds and mammals. Relatively larger species (woodpeckers, oak trees and water voles) make up only 1.6% of the total number of feeds and are recorded in the owl diet only in winter.
Interestingly, with a sufficient amount of feed in the fall and winter, the detective stores them, folding them into the hollows of trees. In such “pantries”, sometimes 20–40 or more frozen voles, mice and shrews were found. At the same time, far more modest reserves are indicated for Belovezhskaya Pushcha - from 1 to 8 animals. The largest reserve here consisted of 5 red-backed voles, 1 small and 2 common shrews. The stocks of the owl consist of dead animals and birds stacked in hollows. Sometimes the animals are completely untouched, but sometimes the heads of the mammals are eaten up, and the entrails of birds are eaten.
The size of the ridges of the passerine owl varies from 1.6 to 3 cm, i.e., they slightly exceed the size of the ridges in Central Europe, where they vary within 1-2.8 cm. The ridges have a characteristic ellipsoidal shape, and one of the sides is slightly less convex than the opposite. One vertex of the pendulum has a regular rounded shape, while the other is somewhat elongated and slightly dented along the axis and sometimes ends with an extension from the fur of the animals. According to the indicated signs, the passages of the passerine owl are easily distinguished from the riddles of other birds.
In the mysteries of a sparrow owl, all parts of the animals eaten by him the size of a red vole and larger are never found together. The remains of the front and back parts of voles are found in the same endeavor, but rarely. The bones of the voles' skulls in riddles are more common than the bones of the hind limbs or tails, and the heads of the voles were eaten off in the stock of forage of the owl. Therefore, we can conclude that the detective eats the vole in parts, starting with the head. He pre-plucks and eats the birds in parts, sometimes completely, but more often leaves their head, wings, legs and part of the skin. The detective swallows the smaller animals (shrews) as a whole, so that the riddle often consists of the remains of a shrew, which completely preserved all parts of the skeleton and even the sequence of their location.
The species composition of feed in the stocks and ridges of the owl is similar, but the specific gravity of individual types of feed is different. In the stocks, the proportion of large animals is higher, and in the puzzles - small ones. So, voles make up 35.8% of the total number of animals collected by the detective in stocks, and 25.4% in puzzles. The proportion of shrews, in contrast, is 2% higher in puzzles. Consequently, the sparrow syringe is more willing to eat those animals that it can swallow whole, but lays aside the larger ones, which it cannot eat immediately because of its large size and is forced to tear to pieces before eating. Obviously, for the same reason, he preys mainly on small animals, although he can cope with prey that is larger than it, as evidenced by the presence of woodpeckers in his diet. The case of a daytime attack of a passerine owl on a large speckled woodpecker was described in 1954. Sychik attacked a sitting woodpecker from behind and from below. Fighting birds fell in the snow, where the observer managed to catch them with his hands.
In different times of the year, there were no noticeable changes in the species composition of feed in the nutrition of the passerine owl, which should be explained by the high specialization of the owl for the production of certain animal species that are active all year round. However, the proportion of individual food groups of the owl varies throughout the year. In his summer diet, the proportion of mammals is very high (81.5%), and the share of red-backed voles is 39.7%, i.e., the same amount as all shrews.In winter, the proportion of rodents in the diet of the owl decreases, and they make up only 15.3% of the total number of feeds, and the share of shrews increases to 60.4%. In summer, birds make up 18.5% of the total feed, and in winter 24.3%. In winter, there is some expansion of the hunting areas of the passerine owl towards open spaces, as evidenced by the presence in the winter diet of the owl of water and dark voles - species that live in floodplains. The expansion of the hunting areas of the owl was noted since September, when their screams at night could be heard in the floodplain alder forest outside the forest.
The small size of the feed of the owl in Belovezhskaya Pushcha (8 specimens) compared with the Moscow Region, where they found up to 44 and even 86 specimens of animals, is explained by the fact that the experimental territory had a high density of hollows and natural shelters. Therefore, the passerine syke used several hollows in parallel or alternately, but in each of them it remained relatively short, as evidenced by the relatively small number of riddles in the hollows. On average, there were 2.04 puzzles per one duplyanka, and their number in individual duplyanka ranged from 1 to 11. Sometimes in the duplyanka they found the remains of animals eaten by the detective, and in the same place the remains of these same animals in puzzles. Consequently, the detective used one and the same bunker from the moment of eating the prey to the drop of the puzzle. Since the detective discards a fortune in 2-2.5 days after receiving the feed, it can be considered that he used separate bunkers for several days, after which he occupied, also for a while, new shelters. Thus, due to the large number of shelters, the sparrow syne in Belovezhskaya Pushcha does not stay in any of them for long, but uses them more or less evenly, which prevents them from being populated by other birds.
In the vast majority of cases, traces of the presence of the passerine owl were found in hollows located not far from one another. It can be assumed that the size of the hunting area of the owl or the family of detectives is about 2.5-4 km² (in summer they are close to 2.54 km², in winter they increase).
The number of passerine owls in Belarus is estimated at 1.2–2 thousand pairs.
The species is listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus since 1993. Protection status is currently the fourth category.
The maximum age recorded in Europe is 6 years.
1. Grichik V.V., Burko L. D. "The animal world of Belarus. Vertebrates: textbook. Manual" Minsk, 2013. -399с.
2. Nikiforov M.E., Yaminsky B.V., Shklyarov L.P. "Birds of Belarus: A Handbook-Guide for Nests and Eggs" Minsk, 1989. -479 p.
3. Grichik V. V. "Geographical variability of birds in Belarus (taxonomic analysis)." Minsk, 2005. -127с.
4. Gaiduk V. Ye., Abramova I. V. "Ecology of birds in the south-west of Belarus. Non-fox-like: monograph." Brest, 2009. -300s.
5. Nikiforov M. E. Belarusian Ornitho-Faunistic Commission: a review of reports of the rarest finds for 1990-1999. / Subbuteo Volume 4 No. 1, 2001. S.25-40
6. Golodushko B. Z., Samusenko E. G. "Nutrition of the passerine owl in Belovezhskaya Pushcha" / Ecology and bird migration of the Baltic states. Riga, 1961. S.135-140.
7. Fransson, T., Jansson, L., Kolehmainen, T., Kroon, C. & Wenninger, T. (2017) EURING list of longevity records for European birds.
The appearance of passerines
This owl exactly repeats the appearance of large relatives. On average, the length of the body of a sparrow owl is some 15-19 cm, and the wingspan is up to 40 cm.
The average weight of an adult reaches only 80 grams. Normally, females are slightly larger than males. As for the colors, the upper body of these owls is painted in gray, or grayish-brown, sometimes - much less often - in dark brown. A white pattern on the steering feathers is noticeable on the wings. Throughout the body, this owl has small white marks.
Bottom of the body is usually white, with brown stripes. A dark spot with small white spots is clearly visible on the chest and on the goiter. The tail is gray or brown, depending on the general color. Regardless of the overall tone, five longitudinal light bands are visible on the tail.
Sparrow Owl (Glaucidium passerinum).
A small rounded head, but unlike large owls, the passerine owl has no characteristic "ears". The front part is gray, with small brownish spots. Around the eyes there are usually rings of light and brown colors. White eyebrows are clearly visible above the eyes.
The iris of the eye is saturated yellow, as, in fact, is the beak. The claws of the paws are large, very strong, and strongly bent. Fingers, like paws, are densely covered with feathers down to the claw.
Sparrow owl habitat
Under natural conditions, the passerine owl is widespread only in Europe and Asia. Most often it can be found in Central Europe and Scandinavia, right up to the Arctic Circle, as well as in the mountains of Central and Eastern Europe.
Like other taiga owls, a sparrow owl preys in the afternoon or at dawn.
Also found in Russia, Mongolia, Manchuria and other countries of the continent. Sparrow sychnik usually leads a sedentary lifestyle, and does not fly from place to place.
However, in conditions of too cold winters, it can migrate south, to a warmer belt. The ideal habitat for owls is dense forests with tall trees, often coniferous.
The lifestyle and nutrition of the passerine owl
The sparrow owl, like all owls, leads a predominantly twilight lifestyle. On cloudy days, he can hunt both during the day and at dawn. In this case, a variety of small animals, such as mice, voles, hamsters, rats, lemmings and so on, fall into his diet. The little detective does not disdain with small birds of the passerine family and the like.
Sometimes a detective eats only the head of a prey, eating away the brain and eyes, and throws the rest.
It also happens that an owl does not completely eat its prey, being content with only the tidbits. If we talk about chicks, then their diet is also replenished by insects of all species, which kids catch right on the fly. Despite its modest size, one owl covers more than 4 km2 of territory as its hunting ground. In the winter, owls store their food for the future, and when the birds fly to the winter feeders, they watch them there.
Sparrow Owl Breeding
Usually matrimonial games of detectives last from February to May. The male calls the female with mating songs, performing them not far from the future nest. At dusk, his whistle is heard for several kilometers, and on a cloudy day he sings in the afternoon. In the evening, the intensity of the whistle is greater than in the morning, and the male can sing for several hours without a break.
Listen to the voice of the sparrow owl
In mid-April, the height of the mocking of passerines is taking place. It is worth noting that sparrow owls are monogamous, which means that they choose a mate for many years. However, if there are no couples yet, young individuals begin the process of dating.
The male invites the female to fly around his territory in order to choose a nesting place. If a cunning male decided to use the nest from last season, then he will lead the female to him, without showing her other possible options.
Males become very attached to their lands, and may not leave them until 7 years in a row. If the female liked the proposed place for the nest, then she remains near it, or returns to it at dusk. The pair brings the nest in perfect order, equipping it in the best way. Only after that the female lays eggs. In one clutch, there can be from 2 to 7 eggs. The eggs are usually white, about 2.5 x 2.8 cm in size.
Offspring in young birds can appear at the age of 9-10 months, but they reach their final maturity in one year.
Each egg is laid approximately every two days, and only after the last egg does the female sit to warm them. She incubates them for about a month, and all this time she increases her hollow with her beak, picking out small pieces of wood.
After hatching, the female does not leave the chicks for about 8-10 days, and during this time they open their eyes completely. The male carries food that the female feeds to the chicks. Somewhere after 3 weeks, the kids get on the wing. After this, the father worries about the offspring for about 4 weeks, teaching them all the necessary skills. The puberty of these birds occurs at the age of one year, and only after that they are ready to breed their own offspring.
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