Monday, 23 August 2010

Little Owl (Athene noctua)

Latin Etymology: Athene (after the Greek goddess, who bird was the owl) noctua (sacred owl of Athene)

Adult Little Owl (subspecies A. n. vidalii) at Geddington, Northants - August 2010

Featured Subspecies: Athene noctua vidalii
Weight: 180g  /  Length: 22cm  /  Wingspan: 56cm
NO UK STATUS / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Despite theoretically being the second most common owl in Britain and being more diurnal that most, it is that last owl for me to see, during this challenge or otherwise. It's size might be a factor in that it makes it harder to distinguish at a distance. Combined with the fact that it doesn't roost in the day and is of much more subtle colouring that the distinctive pale barn owl it becomes a bird that is easy to see if you know where to look. When you do see one though it is definitely worth it as they are very charming little birds. Photographing them is at least helped by the fact you'll likely see them in daylight hours.

Related Species:
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Athene
Subspecies: A. n. noctua, A. n. ubdugena, A. n. vidalii, A. n. glaux, A. . saharae, A. n. bactriana, A. n. indigena, A. n. spilagastra, A. n. somaliensis, A. n. orientalis, A. n. impasta, A. n. ludlowi, A. n. plumipes   

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM An introduced resident (5,700 pairs)
 - A pair used to roost near Geddington. Birds also seen in Oare Marshes
SPAIN - Spanish -  Mochuelo comĂșn ("Common Owl")
A fairly common resident
 - MADRID 2016 TRIP: A pair living in the roof of an old barn at Laguna Navaseca

Further Information: BirdForum OpusIUCN Red ListWikipediaRSPB, Xeno-canto


  1. Hi Alex - nice Little Owl, we've lost the pair that were near the nature reserve and 'easy'. What about Eagle Owl? Lots of controversy surrounding them but they're breeding near here and very welcome too. They're as 'native' as Wild Boar and Goshawks and more so than Ring Necked Parakeets!



  2. In terms of this project, I haven't really decided what to do about Eagle Owls. They are certainly breeding, but as I understood it, them ever being resident was less clear-cut than boar/goshawks? I'm certainly not in the "they are non-native species! they must be destroyed!" camp, but I do think an eye needs to be kept on them to make sure they don't destabilise the ecosystems where they establish - particularly by taking out other top predators - I certainly see them as more of a risk than poor unfortunate ruddy ducks. As for getting them on this site, I think that I'll either leave them towards the end unless I'm heading near them anyway, by that point they might be a little more established and therefore easier to see. Though whatever happens, at least they should be easier than snowy owls.