Little Owl Facts

little owl on a fence

The Little Owl is a rare bird.  Not necessarily in numbers, although there are strong indications that it is in decline, but because it is an introduced species that hasn’t upset the apple cart!

It is less than 150 years since Victorian landowners first attempted to bring this owl into our landscape from Holland firstly in Kent and then by Lord Lifford to his ancestral seat in Northamptonshire. So successful was he that they were known as Lifford’s Owl for a time.  The Little Owl found its niche (in a hole in a tree) eating insects and invertebrates as well as mice and voles and does not seem to have impacted on any of our native species.

Frequently seen in the day, perched on a telegraph pole, an old parkland tree, along a hedgerow, or on a rock, it quietly scans the ground for prey. Mottled brown and cream plumage and bright yellow eyes, it bobs its head up and down when alarmed, When it spots something, it swoops down and catches its victim with either its claws or beak. Little Owls breed between March and August, forming monogamous pairs and nesting in hollow trees or cavities in walls where they produce clutches of 2-5 eggs.


Length: 21-23cm 
Wingspan: 56cm 
Weight: 180g 
Average lifespan: 3 years

Conservation status

Introduced, non-native species.