It is the smallest owl in Europe: the owl, a newcomer to the Cévennes

The smallest nocturnal raptor in Europe is present on the Aigoual and Mont Lozère: encounter with the little owl.

“His fluty singing was heard for the first time on the Aigoual in 2016, explains Jérôme Molto, team leader at the Cévennes National Park. It took until last fall to confirm its presence. In September, six individuals were contacted on the Aigoual and three on Mount Lozère, in very distinct sectors.

With an average height of 17 cm (the size of a starling) for a weight of 60 grams, the European pygmy owl is the smallest of the small mountain owls. A miniature that appeared in the Ice Age and is confined to the countries of northern Europe. It is also present in the coniferous and deciduous forests of the Alps, the Jura and the Vosges.

Lover of small birds

In recent years, its expansion has been noted in the Massif Central and the Aude Pyrenees. The Cévennes National Park was therefore expecting his arrival. “Certainly, she is small, it does not mean that she does not have a strong character! She is very demonstrative”, adds Jérôme Molto who, during tours, was able to see him.

“You can sometimes spot it by the alarm calls emitted by passerines (tits, crossbills, etc.) when it is around, because it is known to feed on small birds. Even if it does not disdain a vole or a lizard.”

This species, more crepuscular than nocturnal, nests in lodges dug and abandoned by the great spotted woodpecker. Shelters smaller than those of the black woodpecker which are sought after by Tengmalm’s owl.

Observed for the first time in the 90s, the Tengmalm took about twenty years to settle on the Cévennes massifs.

The newcomer could also find the environment to her liking. Displays and matings begin for this species from mid-March. Fingers crossed that in a few weeks baby owls will be born.

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