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owl Little Owls

Identify It >   Birds Section >   Owls Section >   Little Owls >

Scientific name:  Athene noctua

Size:  Grows to around 20cm

Distribution:  Found throughout most of England and Wales.  Absent from Northern Ireland and a few in southern Scotland

Months seen:  All year round

Habitat:  Farms, parks and at the edges of woodland

Food:  Small mammals, invertebrates and small birds

Special features:  As their name suggests, Little Owls are the smallest owls found in the UK.  They are short and squat with a flat topped head.  The plumage is brown and white with white eyebrows, and the eyes are yellow.  They have a distinctive and loud call which sounds like a "keeoo"

There are estimated to be over 10,000 Little Owls in the UK and they all originated from a handful which were released in England in the late 1800's.  Little Owls will nest in holes in trees, buildings and purpose built nest boxes.  They lay up to 5 white eggs which hatch within a month and the chicks fledge within another month.

Unlike other UK owls, the little owl does most of its hunting at dawn and dusk.  This gives it a wider selection of food, allowing it to hunt for both daytime and nocturnal prey.  They can often be seen perching out in the open, often remaining in the same spot for hours

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