Mark Avery: Little owls - would you miss them?

I haven’t seen a little owl for a while, and on checking my records on Birdtrack I am slightly surprised to find that I didn’t see a little owl Athene noctua in either 2011 or 2010 so it really is some time ago. So the next question has to be – is it just me? The State of the UK’s Birds for 2011 shows that little owls have decined in numbers by 40% in the last 40 years, with most of that decline since 1990. So it’s probably not just me. Given that little owls are farmland species that depend on invertebrates such as large insects and earthworms it may not be surprising that they are declining but I expect someone will blame their decline on the badger if we wait long enough!

By Mark Avery, January 26th, 2012