The Little Owl is a small bird of prey that got its name from the fact that it often lives close to people and even right in various buildings. This medium-sized bird is non-conflict and gets along even at home. Little owls are unique in their character and behavior.
Origin of the species and description
The Little Owl is a representative of a small genus of owls from the owl family. Birds of this family live, as a rule, in open areas, do not like frequent flights and are nocturnal. The size of the owls varies, but they are mostly small birds that feed mainly on insects.
Video: Little Owl
In addition to the little owl, the genus of owls includes the following two species:
- the brahmin owl is an inhabitant of Asia and Iran. It is in constant cooperation with people in small settlements, as it destroys harmful insects that could cause inconvenience in agricultural fields. This is the most common species of the owl genus;
- rabbit owl (rabbit owl, cave owl). It lives only in North America, inhabiting fields and meadows. It got its name far from due to the fact that the bird eats rabbits – the size of this owl is very small, so rabbit owls eat insects. The burrowing owl burrows and lives there, hence its name.
The brown owl is also a common representative of the genus. It is difficult to say when these three species split into several evolutionary branches. It is reliably known that their difference lies, first of all, in a different habitat and, consequently, in different food and behavioral habits. The little owl differs in many ways from its closest relatives.
Appearance and features
House owls are half the size of a normal owl. The length of their body is only about 25 cm, from the crown to the tip of the tail, of which the tail is about 7-9 cm long. This little bird weighs about 170 grams, and the smallest individuals can weigh less than 150. Although at home, the little owl can fatten up to three hundred grams.
Interesting fact: The little owl differs from other owls in that it does not have protruding feathers on its head that resemble ears.
The color of the pen is brown with various gray shades. From head to back, the little owl is covered with white specks and longitudinal white stripes, which seem to visually stretch the bird. The head of the domestic owl is small, with a very mobile neck – like all owls. The head is round and slightly flattened. The eyes are very large, bright yellow, with a black round pupil. The beak of the little owl is small, yellow or brown. The shape of the body is streamlined, which allows the owl to fly quickly and easily maneuver between obstacles – the head flows smoothly into the body, and the transition is smoothed out by feathers.
Interesting fact: Like all owls, owls do not they can move their eyes, so they turn their necks to get a wide view – up to 180 degrees.
The wings of the little owl also fit snugly to the body, but they are quite short – about 15 cm long, so they do not reach the tip of the tail. The tail is also small and wide. Due to the thick feather cover, it seems that the owls are chubby birds, but in fact they are very thin.
The owl has thin short legs, which are overgrown with feathers almost to the claws. The claws are long, strong, allowing the raid to grab small prey.
Where does the little owl live?
The little owl is a very common bird that has taken root in different places and in different climates. It lives everywhere except the North and South Poles, tropical regions and regions of the far north. It can be found throughout Europe, including in the European part of Russia. The little owl has settled comfortably in Asia, North and South America, where it conflicts with other species of owls, fighting for food. Africa can also be called its habitat.
Like all types of owls, the little owl avoids mountainous areas, lowlands, forests and too humid climate. This is due to the fact that the little owl needs a lot of space for the maneuvers that it makes during the hunt. It also does not like regions where the ground is covered with a thick layer of snow – its short paws cannot grab prey from under it.
The little owl is called this way largely due to the fact that he likes to settle near villages and small towns, equipping his nests right in buildings or under roofs. Attics, abandoned buildings, and even cemeteries with their tall monuments are also suitable habitats.
Interesting fact: Due to the fact that owls love to settle in cemeteries, people have long considered these birds with evil spirits and messengers of evil.
Also, the little owl comfortably takes root at home. It cannot be kept in a cage or aviary, so breeders provide the owl with a whole room with several hills so that the bird feels comfortable.
Now you know where the little owl lives. Let’s see what he eats.
What does the little owl eat?
House Owl – nocturnal predator that hunts from late evening until early morning. If necessary, he can fly out to hunt during the day – this often happens in the season when the little owls need to feed the chicks. Owls are very patient hunters that freeze on tree branches and wait a long time for prey to appear.
Their diet includes:
- bloodworms, locusts, larvae and other large insects;
- small rodents – voles, house mice, shrews;
- very rare – small rats.
When the little owl sees the victim, he hovers over it for a long time, intending to make an accurate throw. Even if another prey or even danger appears in the radius of view, the little owl will ignore this, since it is very focused on the selected prey. When the owl is ready, it falls like a stone on the victim and instantly kills it with sharp claws. If it is a rat, then a fight may even occur, in which the owl does not always come out victorious.
Owl cubs, just flown out of the nest, hunt insects with interest. This allows them to learn hunting skills in order to catch larger prey later. As a rule, owls absorb the victim entirely along with bones and fur. Later, solid food that is not digested passes through the mouth in the form of a dense lump. Sometimes owls hunt in pairs, and in this case they can even attack a marten. They cannot lift it into the air, so they drag it to the nest, nibbling along the way. In this case, they feed the young by belching.
An interesting fact: If an owl kills a field mouse or a jerboa, it is highly likely that it will also settle in the hole of the eaten victim.
Owls often live near agricultural fields, and now people do not perceive this as an evil sign. House owls play the role of a cat-mousetrap – they destroy all rodents and harmful insects, prepare food for the winter and hide it in buildings and hollows of trees.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Little owls are very bold birds, although they are not aggressive. Basically, if a bird lives near a person for a long time, it ceases to be afraid of him and can even fly up to a close distance. This character made it possible to make the owl a domestic bird, although the house owl still retains its wild habits.
Interesting fact: The owl is also called a feathered cat for its hunting skills.
In the wild, the owl is very active, and all summer it is busy harvesting supplies. These birds do not like frosts, and, moreover, hunting during cold weather, so in winter they try to eat their workpieces. These fearless birds can create problems if kept at home as they are very energetic. House owls live in pairs or alone. Juveniles prefer to hunt alone, although sometimes young males organize small groups, especially for the summer “harvesting” period.
Owls very rarely use their camouflage abilities – for the most part, they don’t care if the enemy notices them or not. However, if you bring a wild owl into your home environment, it will hide for a long time and even show aggression, since a change of scenery is stressful for this bird. In general, owls can be affectionate and cheerful birds. They love to play, get used to specific people, recognize them and take them for members of the pack.
Social Structure and Reproduction
The breeding season for brown owls falls in the spring. Typically, young brown owls mate for life, so they do not need pre-courtship before mating. Those individuals that form a pair for the first time perform a series of rituals: the male dances in front of the female, makes sounds similar to cooing and brings her gifts – food, as well as twigs and leaves that can be used to equip a nest for future chicks.
If the female accepts the male, they form a long-term pair. The female little owl lays four or five eggs, which she incubates without getting up. All this time, the male brings her food and takes care of the chosen one in every possible way.
Interesting fact: Two owls that have been placed next to each other in captivity may refuse to breed. These birds choose their own mate exclusively.
The chicks are born tiny and defenseless. Their weight does not exceed ten grams, they are also completely blind. The first week the female is also with them, warms them and teaches them sound signals. When the eyes of the chicks open, the female, together with the male, begins to fly out to hunt to feed the cubs.
After forty days of intensive feeding, the chicks will be completely strong and ready to fly out of the nest. Parents may even push unsure chicks for their first flight. The chicks form a small flock and keep each other until they find a mate. Little owls live for about twelve years, during which time the female breeds about twenty chicks.
Natural enemies of the little owl
Despite the fact that the little owl is a predator, he himself is often attacked by various predators. The situation is complicated by the fact that little owls are fearless, therefore they do not hide from the sight of potential enemies.
The natural enemies of the little owl are the following:
- Eagle eagles;
- marsh harriers;
- also foxes, which can suddenly attack the little owl when it attacks the prey from the air;
- ermines, weasels, rats can attack the little owl in response if it hunts them.
House owls are not timid birds. They can fight back an attacker. Then sharp claws and a strong beak come into play. The brown owl is able to fight off even large birds. If he is under attack, he primarily relies on maneuverability and speed.
Due to its small size, streamlined body shape, it rapidly flies across the flat terrain, and also skillfully hides among the thickets. This is an undeniable advantage over large predators that do not have such maneuverability. The brown owl is not a targeted object of hunting. In winter, when food is scarce, it can even be attacked by large owls, although owls are reluctant to attack members of their family.
Population and species status
The little owl is a very common bird that has never been hunted by people. Only in an era when people were most prone to superstitions, house owls were attacked and driven out of residential areas. The largest number of brown owls is observed in Asian countries. There are plains that are a good hunting ground for these birds. Little owls have long been of great agricultural importance, as they killed mice and rats that ate grain supplies.
Now some experienced breeders keep the little owl at home. They manifest themselves as playful birds that love communication, affection and quickly get used to people. Evolutionarily, these birds are accustomed to living next to people, so this is another aspect why little owls easily take root at home. Despite the huge distribution, brown owls are listed in the Red Books of certain regions of the Russian Federation, as well as in the Red Book of Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia. House owls are not listed in the International Red Book, like other species of owls.
The owl is an active bird and a brave predator. Despite their small size, they are able to fight back large animals and birds, but at the same time remain non-conflict and docile creatures. Thanks to their character and cute appearance, these birds have won the love of many people who now keep owls at home.