The Little Owl was also known in the past
under the name of the Little Night Owl, as indicated by its Latin name
Though rare in England, it is very common in many parts
of the Continent, where it has been known to be much valued by bird-catchers,
who would employ it as a means of attracting small birds to their traps.
They would place it on the top of a long pole, and carry it into the fields,
where they would plant the pole in the ground. This Owl has a curious habit
of swaying its body backwards and forwards, and is sure to attract the
notice of all the small birds in the neighbourhood. It is well known that
the smaller birds have a peculiar hatred to the Owl, and never can pass
it without mobbing it, assembling in great numbers, and so intent on their
occupation that they seem to be incapable of perceiving anything but the
object of their hatred. Even rooks, magpies, and hawks are taken by this
The Little Owl can be found in almost any
locality, caring little whether it takes up its residence in cultivated
grounds, in villages, among deserted ruins, or in places where man has
never lived. It prefers the neighbourhood of villages, and may be
seen quietly perched in one of its chosen favourite spots, not taking the
trouble to move unless it be approached closely. And to detect a perched
Owl is not at all an easy matter, as the bird has a way of selecting places
to perch where the colours of its plumage harmonize so well with the surrounding
objects that the large eyes are often the first indication of its presence.
Many a time a birdwatcher has gone to search after Owls, and only-been
made aware of them by the sharp angry snap that they make when startled.
The name Athene, has been given
to the Little Owl because it is the species selected by the Greeks as the
emblem of wisdom.