Athene noctua 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Strigiformes Strigidae

Scientific Name: Athene noctua (Scopoli, 1769)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Little Owl
French Chouette chevêche
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Andorra; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Chad; China; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; France; Georgia; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Hungary; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lebanon; Libya; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mali; Mauritania; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Nepal; Netherlands; Niger; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Saudi Arabia; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; Spain; Sudan; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; Uzbekistan; Western Sahara; Yemen
Possibly extinct:
New Zealand
Finland; Ireland; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Malta; Norway; Sweden
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:52900000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):2600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 618,000-1,170,000 pairs, which equates to 1,240,000-2,340,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.25% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 4,960,000-9,360,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 5,000,000-9,999,999 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. The European population is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:5000000-9999999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species is found in a variety of semi-open habitats, ranging from parkland, orchards and cultivated fields with hedges to rocky, semi-desert regions and steppes (Mikkola 1983) and extends from boreal to tropical areas. It is monogamous and breeds from March to August. The nest is built in a cavity and the hole is cleaned and scraped but will also use nest boxes. Clutches are usually three to six eggs (Holt et al. 2014). It feeds on insects, small rodents and plant matter. Birds and frogs are an important food source during the nesting season (Mikkola 1983). The species is sedentary although large displacements do occur (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):4.4
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Population levels can suffer marked decreases after severe winters. Its range has contracted locally in many parts of Europe, which is thought to be mainly due to habitat changes, including the loss of suitable nest-sites and, less often, the use of pesticides. Industrialised farming practices have resulted in a reduction of prey items such as voles and earthworms. Agricultural intensification, ground clearance, excessive use of toxic chemicals and road traffic deaths all contribute to declines as well (Holt et al. 2014). The loss of nest holes from the felling of old hollow trees and the restoration of old buildings is also likely to affect the species (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Conservation Actions Underway

CITES Appendix II. Bern Convention Appendix II. The species is listed as ‘endangered’ on the Dutch national Red List (Hustings et al. 2004). The provision of nest boxes and pollarding of old nesting trees has been successful in Belgium and Germany at offsetting declines (Holt et al. 2014).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Measures should address conservation at the wider countryside scale. The preservation of the species’s habitat, including old trees and hedges, as well as the reduction in the use of pesticides are important. Organochloride pesticides should be replaced with less aggressive products or biological pest control methods. The provision of nest boxes should continue. The maintenance of perches near roads (2 m high, 10–15 m apart and 5 m from the road), is advisable to help reduce car-collisions. Further research into habitat requirements, population size and trends and threats is required (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Athene noctua. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22689328A86869477. . Downloaded on 22 July 2018.
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