There are around 13 species of owl living in Europe, ranging from Scandinavia to North Africa and Ireland to the edge of Asia. The commonest and most widespread of these species is the Tawny Owl.

Owls have a strong part to play in the continent’s mythology, cropping up in Greek legends where they are associated with the bird goddess Athena and her specialities of learning and the arts. The Romans borrowed these associations for their own Minerva and began the association of owls with funerary customs and with daytime sightings as bad omens – which has caused problems for the birds ever since.

Owls also make appearances in French, Welsh and Romanian mythology, generally being associated with both wisdom and ill-luck.

Despite their wide geographical spread, conservationists are becoming concerned about several European species, with habitats (especially forests) put under pressure from agriculture and urban development. There are several projects monitoring the European raptor and owl populations.

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Here are the European owls we have at the sanctuary: