Red-chested owlet
Red-chested owlet (right)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Glaucidium
G. tephronotum
Binomial name
Glaucidium tephronotum

Sharpe, 1875

The red-chested owlet (Glaucidium tephronotum) is a species of owl in the family Strigidae from the rain forests of lowland western Africa. Its habits and behaviour are poorly known.


The red-chested owlet is a very small owl, which has a light grey facial disc with whitish markings and short white eyebrows. The head and neck are dark grey and the back and wings are sooty brown. The long tail has three faint bars, the upper breast and flanks have a reddish-brown wash, while the remainder of the underparts are whitish with rufous streaks on the side of the belly. The iris and bill are yellow. Length is about 14 cm (5.5 in) and wingspan is about 35 cm (14 in).


The call of the red-chested owlet is a series up to 20 high pitched whistling notes.

Distribution, subspecies and habitat

There are currently three recognised subspecies of red-chested owlet:

The red-chested owlet inhabits primary rain forest and a mosaic of forest and scrub, as well as clearings and forest edges. It inhabits elevations of up to 2,150 m (7,050 ft) above sea level.


The red-chested owlet is mainly nocturnal but will hunt and call on overcast afternoons; it roosts in cavities in trees during the day. The main food is insects such as beetles, mantises, grasshoppers, moths and cockroaches, as well as small mammals and birds. Its breeding behaviour is almost unknown but it is thought to nest in the old nesting cavities created by woodpeckers or barbets.

Conservation status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, classifies the red-chested owlet as least concern, since the population is believed to be stable and has a sizable range.