T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Owl (Little owl) Athene noctua vidalii)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Athene
Species: A. noctua
Subspecies: A. noctua vidalii
Binomial name: Athene noctua vidalii
Synonyms: Carine noctua
Common name: Little owl, German owl, North Western Little Owl

Athene noctua vidalii is small owl native to western and northern Europe. 219 of these little raptors were introduced into New Zealand from Germany by the Otago Acclimatisation Society between 1906 and 1910. They were released in Otago and Canterbury to try to control the numbers of exotic small birds feeding on orchards and crops. 
This species has now spread to Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Fiordland, Westland and to the Wairarapa in the North Island. They most commonly occur in farmland where they inhabit small stands of trees, old farm buildings, haysheds and hedges. They prey on rodents, small birds, frogs, lizards, rabbits, large insects, moths and spiders. They are not considered a significant threat as a predator to any native bird species. They can be active during the day.

Athene noctua vidalii is a small, plump owl >23 cm in length and >180 g in weight. It is grey-brown with white streaks and spots, pale grey facial discs either side of their face below the eyes, and prominent white bands above the yellow eyes and below the chin. The legs have thick white feathering down to the pale yellow-grey toes. It is shorter than a Morepork. (Description thanks to http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz)

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/