You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
"It’s a great photograph of a little-seen species," Mr Harris said yesterday.
Otago Daily Times illustrations editor Stephen Jaquiery photographed the bird as it was perching on the windowsill of an old building near Tunnel Beach Rd, in Dunedin, yesterday afternoon.
Mr Harris, who is also an Otago Museum honorary entomologist, said he had been keeping an eye out for little owls (Athene noctua) for about 40 years.
He had found several nests in abandoned barns on the Taieri over the years, and within the nests had seen the bones of small rodents and birds and the remains of insects, but he had glimpsed little of the little owl itself.
The little owl was introduced in Otago and Canterbury, from Germany, between 1906 and 1910 in an effort to control the numbers of exotic small birds feeding on orchards and crops.
Mr Harris said the photograph showed the "characteristic habitat" of a bird which often nested in abandoned rural buildings and was rarely seen, despite often hunting small birds during the day, and digging up earthworms in bright sunlight, as well as feeding in the evening.
His only sighting of a live little owl had come 32 years ago, "which suggests they are little seen", he said.