Friday, May 4, 2012

House hunting for little owls

When I spotted a pair of little owls inspecting rabbit holes for their nesting potential in Thixendale, I decided to show them some other potential properties.
Little owls only use rabbit holes when there are no other available sites. But the valley they had chosen to nest in was once a popular haunt for little owls and there is a hole in an ash tree that is just small enough for them to fit in but not big enough for any predatory birds to follow.
When I saw them begin preening and crooning above the rabbit hole they had seemed to have plumped for I couldn't help getting a ladder to see why they had rejected the ash.
It turned out that the hole in the ash was completely blocked up with old leaves so I set about giving it a spring clean and then sat back to see if they could be persuaded to change their minds about the rabbit hole, which was very exposed.
It wasn't long before the male spotted the newly cleaned out hole and called the female over to take a look for herself. She appeared to like it too because shortly afterwards they began to mate.

I spent the rest of that day watching and photographing this charming pair.

 I caught this one on camera just as he coughed up a pellet.

Up it comes!
Clike here to read my column in the Malton Gazette & Herald this month for the full story.


  1. Fantastic account! What a great set of pics, the last one is a corker! Linda

  2. Wonderful post. I did'nt know that Little Owls sometimes nested in holes in the ground. I have long noted the similarity between Little Owls, and Burrowing Owls of the New World. They always nest in rodent burrows.

  3. What a beautiful little couple.