The Little Owl

The Little Owl

The Little Owl, male

Brief Background

The Little Owl is known in Ornithology as Athene noctua. The Little Owl to Strigiforme Order. This study will cover all the necessary parts of Ornithology in order to have a better view concerning this bird.

Appearance and Behaviour

Length: 21-27 cm (8-10 inches); wing: 151-178 mm (6-7 inches); 56-62 cm (22-24 inches); tail: 74-84 mm (29-33 inches); Beak: 20 mm. Weight: 123-198 g.

The dorsal part and tail, takes the brown color with and regularly spotted milky white, especially on the head where the spots are finer. Dirty white facial discs, marked with a gray-brown crescent below the eye. White eyebrows and chin. The abdominal part is brown mixed with vertical whitish spots. White paws plus greenish grey beak, yellow iris, black pupil.

The little owl is recognized by its round head blending, without the usual neck transition, into the stocky body. Wide opening on the world two large golden eyes, in ancient times this bird represented Athena, Greek goddess of mind, arts and sciences; this divinity assimilated by the Romans as Minerva, goddess of wisdom. Familiar with direct sunlight, which it does not fear and even seems to appreciate, the little owl does not seek to conceal its presence. This is how it can be observed, in the hottest hours of the day, perched on top of a dead branch, on a telephone line, a rock or a cliff.

The Little Owl, female 

Rather talkative, especially in the evening and in March and April at the time of mating, it is at the end of winter that the little owl launches its special brief and nervous calls, the male uttering interrogative-like sounds as answers.

The little Owl's voice sample

Food

Hunting mostly on the prowl, especially at dusk and twilight, the little owl catches insects that represent up to 60% of its diet in flight; small rodents also occupy a preponderant place. Sparrows, amphibians, earthworms and a few lizards complete its menu. Very similar to those of the Common Kestrel, the regurgitation balls measure 1.5 cm (0.60 inches) in diameter and 2 to 4 cm (0.80-1.50 inches) in length.

The Little Owl‘s eggs

Reproduction

Homebody by nature, this little owl is confined to open spaces. Its predilection therefore goes to medium-sized fields bordered by hedges as well as orchards. Whether it settles in an old ivy-covered wall, in the natural hole of a tree, in a rock, or uses a rabbit hole, all what the little owl needs is a safe and discreet place.

Between mid-April and mid-May, the female lays its 4 or 5 white and round eggs there. Medium egg size: 29 x 35 mm (11-14 inches); weight: 16 g. while the male watches not far from fare distance it faithfully provides supplies for his companion, then latter alone provides the 28 days of incubation. Then the two adults participate in the breeding of the young birds. Before even knowing how to fly, the young birds like to discover the surroundings of the nest.

It is therefore not uncommon to find them in July in the shade of the foliage, perched on a branch near the nest, which they quickly regain when they are worried. They leave the marital home at the age of 26 days, but remain with their elders for another 1 month before their final departure.

Migration

Not fond of travel, the little owl remains faithful to its territory in all seasons, even in the harshest winters; only young birds in search of a free canton carry out an autumn dispersal.

Distribution

Introduced to Britain in 1903, the little owl now breeds throughout Europe, with the northern range limit coinciding with Scotland and Denmark. In the east, it also represented by different subspecies as far as Manchuria and also breeds in North Africa and Arabia. The breeding area also extends into Somalia and Asia Minor.

A final word

We hope that this article helped you to get a better understanding of birds. For more articles retated to  Ornithology in specific or animals in general please visit our Animal Category.

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