One of the most diurnal species of owl, in some parts of its range the little owl often hunts during the day (5). Like most owls, however, it is also commonly active between dusk and dawn, and is generally encountered perched on post, tree or telegraph wire, scanning the ground for prey. It feeds upon a variety of small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, beetles, crickets, earwigs and earthworms. Insects are particularly favoured, and may form up to 98 percent of this species’ diet in the Mediterranean. Prey is mostly caught by swooping down from a perch, with larger animals snatched with the feet and smaller victims taken using the bill. Surprisingly, given the typically carnivorous diet of owls, the little owl also seems to deliberately take some plant material, such as grasses and other leaves, and occasionally small fruits, berries and maize. Food is sometimes hoarded by this species, with some caches containing as many as 30 items for later consumption (2).
The little owl breeds between March and August, and forms monogamous pairs, which remain together for at least a year and possibly until one of the birds dies. The nest is constructed within a hollow cavity, which is scraped out and cleaned before a clutch of three to six eggs is laid within. Both incubation of the eggs, which takes between 28 and 33 days, and brooding of the chicks, which lasts for a further 14 days, are performed by the female, while the male supplies food. After brooding, both parent birds supply food for the chicks, which may begin to explore outside the nest in the surrounding vegetation. At around 30 to 35 days old the chicks become fully fledged, but continue to be provided with food for a further month. The little owl often returns to the same nesting site, with some nests in Britain being reused for over 25 years (2).