Little Owl (Athena noctua) Mocho-galego

By far the most common owl in Portugal with a population of 15 pairs per square km in some places. It helps of course that Little Owls are diurnal and thus likely to be seen during the day either sitting unobtrusively in a tree or, where trees are uncommon as on the Alentejan Plains, on piles of rocks, where its spectacular camouflage renders it unobtrusive as long as it doesn't break the skyline. All the pictures below contain Little Owls, though you will struggle to see them in some ....

At times it tolerates very close human presence without spooking - just yesterday I came around the corner of an old ruin to find one of these less than three mts away staring at me from a hole in the wall, and it stayed put unworried while I took its picture, before I moved on.

The size of the claws are out of all proportion to its body or its prey which is more often than not insects, though it also preys on small birds, mammals, lizards, skinks and snakes.

Birding in Portugal

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