The basic biology of owls is poorly understood compared to that of other bird species. The Little Owl, Athene noctua, is one of the best models for biological and conservation research. Though widespread across Europe, Asia and North Africa, populations of the Little Owl are now in decline, making studies of its behaviour and ecology all the more important. This extensively revised and updated second edition features substantial new long-term data on population dynamics, behavioural observations and the breeding biology of the Little Owl. The authors discuss its wide-ranging ecology, genetics, subspecies, and population status by country. In addition, they outline a research strategy and monitoring program. Exceptional illustrations of all fourteen subspecies cover embryonic and chick development, feather growth and moult, including high-quality drawings presenting concrete management suggestions. Whilst being an invaluable resource for academic researchers, its accessible and straightforward style will also appeal to amateur ornithologists and enthusiasts.
1. Introduction – Framework
2. History and traditions
3. Fossil evidence, taxonomy and genetics
4. Morphology and body characteristics
5. Distribution, population estimates and trends
8. Breeding season
10. Population regulation
11. Management and conservation
12. Research priorities
Appendix A – List of prey
Dries Van Nieuwenhuyse is a life-long owl researcher and statistician active in ecological method development and publication. He is a Professor of Performance Management at EHSAL Management School in Brussels and a thought leader in Fact-Based Decision Making. He has authored five books on the impact of technology and statistics on the decision-making processes of organisations, and in particular, brings his skills as a statistician to his ornithological work.
Ronald van Harxen is Chairman of the Dutch Little Owl Working Group (STONE), and has been active in the research and conservation of the Little Owl in The Netherlands and internationally for more than forty-three years. His research focuses on breeding biology and population dynamics within nest box populations. He received several awards including the Special Achievement Award in 2016 from the World Owl Hall of Fame, International Owl Center Houston, USA.
David H. Johnson is Executive Director at Global Owl Project, USA. He is currently working on a 'twelve-year demographic study of the Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) 2010–2022.' He has worked in natural resource conservation for forty-two years and has written two previous books on owls, wildlife and fisheries.
"[...] Van Nieuwenhuyse and his co-authors have certainly given us a fascinating read. However, the most impressive aspect of this book is the huge amount of work the authors did to cover almost all the literature ever published in every type of source [...] if you want to know anything about the Little Owl, this book probably contains the information you seek, while clues are also offered to some as-yet-unanswered questions."
– Inigo Zuberogoitia, Ibis - The Journal of the British Ornithologists' Union, July 2009
"The book comprehensively covers all aspects of the Little Owl's life, including sections on history, conservation, breeding biology, behaviour, habitat, food, distribution, taxonomy and world population. In other words virtually everything you would want to know about the species may be found here."
– Scottish Birds
"This wonderful monograph draws on an astonishing 1900 references and decades of fieldwork, accumulated by three enthusiastic, leading 'owlologists'. [...] You can feel the authors' passion for this species on every page [...] The Little Owl is a 'must-have' for anyone who has become spellbound by this charming and charismatic species."
"A must have for those with an interest in the little owl or owls in general."
– Birdbooker Report (guardian.co.uk)