Athene noctua

Range & Status

Palearctic; in Britain and Ireland introduced from 1870 onwards, with at least 8000 pairs (2000), now decreasing.

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: started to become established about 1920, widespread and locally quite numerous by the 1940s; however a decrease began in the late 1960s, continuing throughout the next 20 years; perhaps no more than ten pairs present 1993, with continued decline since perhaps nearer five by 2005 (in valley systems and coastal areas of east Cornwall). Isles of Scilly: absent.

Habitat & Ecology

Associated with low-lying, rather open habitats, with scattered trees; nesting in old barns, hollow trees and cliff crevices. Feeds primarily on invertebrates and small rodents.


Loss of disused barns, as well as the felling of dead trees and ploughing of rough grassland, might be causes of the decrease but the true reasons are unclear.


Controls on the restoration of old barns.