Very small owl of the upper subtropics and temperate forest. Typical pygmy-owl plumage: mostly brown or rufous above, white below with messy brown stripes, and small whitish spots on crown. Sexes similar. Found at higher elevations than other pygmy-owls, mostly from 2,500–3,500 m. Usually seen in the daytime perched at middle or upper levels of forest, often being mobbed by hummingbirds or small passerines. Typically detected by song, which can be given at any time of day but mainly early and late: a series of whistled toots, sometimes with a few quavering notes at the beginning.