Little Owl - Athene noctua


This small owl was introduced to the UK (Kent and Northamptonshire) in the 19th century. It is often seen during the day, usually perching on a tree branch, telegraph pole or rock. It will bob its head up and down when alarmed. In flight it has long, rounded wings, rapid wing beats and flies with a slight undulation.

Identification difficulty

Found in England and Wales with a few in southern Scotland. It likes lowland farmland with hedges and copses, parkland and orchards. Most common in central, southern and south-eastern England and the Welsh borders.

When to see it

All year round, during the day. It hunts at night and dawn

Life History

Although it does catch small mammals and birds, its main food is worms and insects. It usually nests in holes in trees or rocks, laying 3-5 eggs which are incubated by the female.

UK Status

Fairly common and widespread in England, but less so in Scotland.

VC55 Status

Fairly common as a breeding bird in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Little Owl
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
04/04/2005 (Semper, Alan)
Last record:
28/01/2024 (Markham, Marian)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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