The little owl was introduced to Britain in the 19th century it was then known as the 'fierce little foreigner'. As its Latin name implies, in mythology the owl traditionally accompanied the Greek goddess Athene and is often seen a symbol of wisdom.



Little OwlOrder: Strigiformes

Family: Strigidae

Species: Athene noctua

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Population trend: stable

Distribution: throughout central and southern Europe, including England and Wales, with a few in southern Scotland, but absent from Ireland, Iceland and most of Scandinavia.

Habitat: open country, especially farmland with scattered old trees and old buildings. Also found on edges of moorland, quarries and sand-dunes.

Description: a small owl with a short flat head. Upper parts are a greyish brown, mottled and barred with white; underparts are paler with broad brown streaks. Large yellow eyes, and greenish bill. Legs and feet are covered with pale, buff feathers.

Size: about 22cm in height (not much larger than a blackbird).

Food: mainly invertebrates and small mammals, occasionally small birds.

The little owl was introduced to Britain in the 19th Century.   As its Latin name implies, the owl was associated with the Greek goddess Athene. She was originally a goddess of war but was also worshipped as the goddess of the arts of peace and goddess of intelligence. Athene took the owl as her emblem, and its image was stamped on several silver coins. 

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