Protected species of the month - Tengmalm’s owl

Tengmalm’s owl, which has become a rare species in Latvia over the last decades, has been chosen to be the protected species of the month.

Bikšainais apogs

Tengmalm’s owl is a small-size owl reaching 235-280 mm in length. The bird's feathers on the back are dark brown with white specks, which together form a row of white spots in the shoulder area. A dark line frames its pale face, forming a pronounced face veil. This is one of the smallest owls in Europe: males weigh only 90-133 g, while females around 112-223 g.

The species is most commonly identified by a typical voice that can be described as a relatively low frequency sound “u-u-u” or “pu-pu-pu” with a truncated sound. Unprovoked birds at the beginning of the breeding season often sing in the same tree as they are about to nest. Relatively often, there is also a “quacking” sound that is relatively easy to blend with, say, the voice of a forest owl. At the beginning and end of the breeding season, one of the more frequently heard voices is a sound like a squirrel cry.

Unfortunately, the species is highly sensitive to interference during the egg laying and hatching period. Even a simple touch on the trunk of the nest tree can disrupt the hatching, causing the female to leave the nest and the eggs.

Map by Jānis Ukass

The most significant threat to the species in Latvia is logging, as the bird most often inhabits old mixed and conifer forests that have been affected by economic activity. Weasels can be mentioned as the biggest enemy of the species in nature. In 2018, a program of artificial nests was started in Latvia, within the framework of which 100 cages were prepared for the protection of breams.


Avotiņš jun. A. 2019. Apodziņa Glaucidium passerinum, bikšainā apoga Aegolius funereus, meža pūces Strix aluco, urālpūces Strix uralensis, ausainās pūces Asio otus un ūpja Bubo bubo aizsardzības plāns. Latvijas Ornitoloģijas biedrība, Rīga

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