27 January 2023

Little Owl - Sakaka

Whilst birding the Saka area recently Phin noticed a Little Owl perched on the side of the road at close range. Unfortunately, by the time we saw it, it had flown slightly further away and into the sun. The below photos are the only ones I got that are usable. Two subspecies of Little Owl occur in Saudi Arabia with Athene noctua saharae that occurs from northern and central Sahara Desert south to the African countries of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan, and east discontinuously into Arabian Peninsula occurring in the Abha area north to central Saudi Arabia. Its range overlaps with race Athene noctua lilith that occurs from Cyprus and inland Middle East from southeast Turkey south to Saudi Arabia where it occurs in northern and central Saudi Arabia. The overlap occurs in central Saudi Arabia at least, with Lilith occurring north to the boarders of Jordon, Iraq and Kuwait in the Kingdom. Lilith Owlet is an uncommon resident breeder in the Central Deserts, Hejaz, northern Hejaz and Najran as well as the Eastern Province where they are confined to broken escarpments and rocky outcrops in the desert north of Uray’irah. Athene noctua lilith is the palest race and is a very pale sand colour. Some authorities treat this as a separate species Athene Lilith from Little Owl with the name Lilith Owlet generally being used as the English name.