Fun Little Owl Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Little owl facts are great for kids

It is common to come across the little owl (Athene noctua) in flight or while it perches on trees or posts in Britain. This small owl species is known for being active during dusk or dawn rather than being lively at night.

The loud and vocal call of these birds makes it distinct from other owl species.

This bird mainly inhabits semi-open areas, which can also include urban or suburban areas. When it comes to the description of its physical appearance, this bird is mostly covered in brown feathers with white spots.

This bird is good at hunting, and it can easily swoop down from trees with a steady and undulating flight and pick up its prey from the ground. During the breeding season, a clutch of three to six eggs is laid by this bird, and the young owlets leave the nest early in just a month.

These birds aren't currently endemic to a specific place, but they were introduced to the South Island of New Zealand. Currently, thirteen subspecies of this bird are recognized.

Keep reading to know more interesting little owl facts. For more relatable content, check out these barn owl facts and red owl facts for kids.

Little Owl Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a little owl?

The little owl (Athene noctua) is a small bird that is also known by the names of owls of Athena or Minerva.

What class of animal does a little owl belong to?

These owls belong to the class Aves, to the family Strigidae, and to the genus Athene.

How many little owls are there in the world?

IUCN lists the global population of the little owl as having a range between 5-10 million mature individuals.

Where does a little owl live?

The little owl (Athene noctua) occurs in temperate and warmer parts of Europe. This species also occurs in 84 countries of the Palearctic region.

The little owl was also introduced to England as well as in the South Island of New Zealand. In North England, it can be found in areas such as Lancashire and Yorkshire. This bird species is also present in Asia.

What is a little owl's habitat?

The habitat of this species mainly depends on its geographical distribution. However, it has an affinity towards semi-open habitats, which may include open fields, grasslands, open woodlands, semi-deserts, steppes, deserts, cliffs, non-wooded mountains, orchards, and farmland. In England, these birds are often seen in orchards.

It prefers areas with trees and posts for perching. Holes of trees are preferred as nesting places, and the birds will clean out the holes before building the nest. It may also share a nest with barn owls.

Who do little owls live with?

Not much is known about its grouping habits, but the male birds are quite fussy about their territory.

How long does a little owl live?

The average lifespan range of these birds is up to 15 years. The young birds have a high mortality rate because of inadequate availability of prey and nesting space, but the young may also suffer due to predation.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the little owl is between February to early May during the spring and summer months, but in some subspecies, it may continue till August. The distribution of territories is crucial to the males, and it is the first part of the courtship.

As monogamous birds, the pairs will nest with one mate in a single season, and it may last for its lifetime. These bird pairs produce one egg clutch every season.

In Britain, some nest sites have been used for over 25 years. Nests can also be made in scattered trees present in farmland or near a barn near food sources.

The eggs are laid in clutches of three to six eggs in the holes of trees, and incubation lasts for 28–33 days by the female birds. It takes up to 30-35 days for the young to leave the nest.

What is their conservation status?

Currently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List lists the little owl as a species of Least Concern.

Little Owl Fun Facts

What do little owls look like?

The overall look of the little owls is quite simple. Bodies of the birds are covered with dark brown feathers with white or pale spotting.

When in flight, the white and dark brown feathers are bared. The dark brown feathers are also present in the tail of the bird. White feathers are widespread on the throat of the birds, complemented with a brown collar.

The neck and upper breast have spots, while the tummy area is mostly white. The spotting may get darker in the lower parts of the body. The little owls do not have a prominent facial disc.

It has pale or sulfur yellow eyes along with a grayish-yellow beak. When it's perched, the dark tips of its claws are clearly visible.

How cute are they?

As a small bird, the little owl does look adorable and cute.

How do they communicate?

The little owls are known for making 40 different calls, and the bird can be quite vocal. These calls can be used for various purposes, from mating to defending its territories.

During the breeding season, the birds are known for making frequent calls which take a dip during the winter and summer seasons. If the bird senses a predator, it will stop its calls until the danger has passed. The calls of males are clearer and sharper than that of females.

How big is a little owl?

The average size range of a little owl is around 8.2-9 in (21-23 cm). Compared to it, the tawny owl has an average size range of 15-18 in (37–46 cm) making it twice as large as the little owl.

How fast can a little owl fly?

Even though the exact flying speed range of the little owl cannot be found, these are fast-flying birds. In general, the average flying speed of owls is around 30 mph.

How much does a little owl weigh?

The average weight range of a little owl is 3.4-12.3 oz (98-350 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male owls are known as cocks and female owls are known as hens.

What would you call a baby little owl?

A small owl or a baby owl is called an owlet.

What do they eat?

The little owl is carnivorous in nature, and its diet mainly consists of insects, earthworms, and small animals like mice. It is known that the little owl can prey on 544 different animals as food.

This owl can also carry food as heavy as its own weight. Rodents and large invertebrates are some of the main food sources that it catches by hunting on the ground.

Are they dangerous?

No, little owls aren't dangerous to human beings.

Would they make a good pet?

No, you cannot keep a little owl as a pet because it's a wild animal.

Did you know...

Owls can rotate their heads 270 degrees.

A group of owls is called a parliament.

Elf owl is the smallest species of owls.

What is the name of the smallest owl in Britain?

Little owls are the smallest owl species present in Britain. It was introduced in the country during the 1880s.

Do little owls migrate?

Even though the little owl isn't a migratory bird, it uses the winter season as a time to expand its territory.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our black caracara facts and chimango caracara facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable owl coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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