NZ Birds of Prey / Introduced / Little Owl
Where do Little owls like to live?
The Little owl is the only raptor species that has been deliberately introduced to New Zealand.
The Little owl was introduced in Otago and Canterbury to try to control the numbers of exotic small birds feeding on orchards and crops. It is now widespread throughout the drier northern and eastern coastal farmland areas of the South Island of New Zealand, but also occur in small pockets in Fiordland and Westland. Like Barn owls they also occur overseas and are an open habitat species. They most commonly occur in farmland where they inhabit small stands of trees, old farm buildings and hedgerows. Unlike our other owl species they are regularly seen perching in the daylight, often on fence posts or on small piles of wood. Little owls make a high pitched 'Kiew' Call which can be heard in the day time particularly during courting.↑
What other names does the Little Owl have? Scientists call it: Athene noctua vidalii
Other people know the Little owl as the: German owl.
What do Little Owls Eat?
Although introduced to control small birds, the early European settlers made a bit of a mistake, as Little Owls more commonly feed on insects. They generally catch these on the ground either catching them directly or pursuing them by running after them.
when & Where do Little Owls breed?
Little owls lay up to five eggs between October and November with most chicks fledging between December and January. Little owls nest in nooks and crannies in trees, wood piles, old buildings and even down rabbit holes – being so small they don’t need that big a cavity! When disturbed from their roosts or when threatened they make a characteristic bobbing motion.↑
How can I tell a Little Owl from a Morepork?
Little owls are smaller than Morepork measuring only 22cm tall and are often seen in daylight on South Island farms or at the side of the road.
Morepork are very rarely seen in daylight and are more commonly seen in areas of native bush or pine forest. The Little owl is also paler than the Morepork having very distinctive cream spots and striations on its front and back. The Morepork has a more spotted buff breast and is more uniformly brown in colour across its back and head.
The Little owl when seen flying has an undulating flight pattern.
little owl image credits: www.falconcrest.eu / www.michelgeven.zenfolio.com