Information on the Little Owl (Athene noctua)

• Length: 21 - 23cm

• Weight: 150 - 230gms

• Wingspan: 54 - 58cm

• UK Breeding population: 5700prs

(* Approximate figures 2016)

Little Owl (Athene noctua)


A wide variety of prey is taken, but small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews invariably form the significant proportion. Even small rabbits are not immune from attack. Small birds are frequently taken during the breeding season, as well as chicks of larger species. Earthworms, snails and slugs and even small fish are all taken, but insects are perhaps the dominant element.


The 3 to 5 white, un-glossed eggs are laid in early May and incubation, mostly, if not entirely, by the female, takes from 28 to 29 days. Fledging takes a further 26 days during which food is brought by the male alone at first and later by both sexes. An occasional second brood is reared. Most nests are occupied during May. They are situated in tree holes, pollarded willows, in walls, old buildings, hay and strawricks, and even in rabbit burrows and cliff holes. See here for information on nest boxes for little owls.


Open country, often farmland, with hedges, ruins, hayricks or other suitable nesting and hiding places. Also found in broken country where rocks fulfil the same function.


Not yet assessed but in decline

All content © Ian McGuire 2016


the website of British owl specialist and wildlife conservationist Ian McGuire