LONG-EARED OWL

Asio otus

© KURT LINDSAY

LONG-EARED OWL FACTS:

Medium-sized owl; buff-colored facial disks, yellow eyes, white eyebrows, black beak, and conspicuous ear tufts

Males: whitish-gray with dark brown streaking and barring

Females: tend to have more dark brown than males

Young: feathers mostly brown with lighter tips, ear tufts much smaller than adults

OTHER NAMES: 

Common Long-Eared Owl or Northern Long-Eared Owl


FAMILY: Strigidae


CLOSEST RELATIVE: Short-Eared Owl

LONG-EARED OWL SIZE:

Female larger than male

Height: Males 35-38 cm (13.8-15.0 in), Females 37-40 cm (14.6-15.7 in)

Weight: Males 220-305g (7.8-10.8 oz), Females 260-435g (9.1-15.3 oz)

Wingspan Both: 90-100cm (35.4-39.4 in)

LONG-EARED OWL RANGE:

In North America ranges from southern Canada through most of U.S. south to New Mexico; circumpolar in northern hemisphere; northern populations tend to migrate seasonally, while more southern populations are non-migratory
 

LONG-EARED OWL HABITAT:

 

A variety of habitats from dense vegetation to open forests, usually near open land, such as meadows or farm fields

LONG-EARED OWL DIET:

Mostly small mammals such as voles and mice, sometimes birds

LONG-EARED OWL VOICE:

Usually silent except during breeding season

Males: a long series of “hoo”s every few seconds, alarm call a barking “ooack, ooack, ooack”

Females: most commonly a soft “shoo-oogh”

LONG-EARED OWL NESTING:

Nest Site: does not build nests; reuses abandoned nests, or nests in tree cavities, cliffs, or even on the ground

Eggs: usually 5-7, more if food sources are abundant

Incubation: 26-28 days

LONG-EARED OWL HUNTING HABITS:

Mostly nocturnal, occasionally crepuscular (during breeding season); an active-search hunter, flies silently back and forth; locates prey by hearing (can capture rodents in complete darkness); kills small mammals by biting the back of their head; swallows prey whole

LONG-EARED OWL CONSERVATION STATUS: 

Considered a “species of special concern” in some parts of the U.S., listed as threatened in Iowa, endangered in Illinois

LONG-EARED OWL RESEARCH: 

Read about the Owl Research Institute's Long-eared Owl study in RESEARCH. 

© Kurt Lindsay

LONG-EARED OWL DISTRIBUTION IN NORTH AMERICA

Maps provided by The Birds of North America Online and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Long-Eared Owl - Denver Holt
00:00 / 00:00

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 

Do owls really have ears? Yes, all birds have ears!

 

However, birds’ ears are actually openings hidden beneath the feathers behind their eyes. The so called “ears” that the Long-Eared Owl is named for are really just tufts of feathers atop its head. Researchers believe that these tufts may help them blend into their surroundings. There are several species of owls that share this feature, including the more common Great-Horned Owl.

 

So how can you tell a Long-Eared Owl from a Great-Horned Owl?  These two owl species can be distinguished by their size (Great-Horned Owls are much larger than Long-Eared Owls), and also by the shape of their ear tufts. Great-Horned Owls’ ear tufts are widely spaced and face outwards, while Long-Eared Owls’ tufts stand close together and upright.


Though the two owls’ habitats can overlap, Great-Horned Owls prefer tall trees in dense forests, while Long-Eared Owls are commonly found in thick brushy areas.

 

Long-Eared Owls have an interesting relationship with some of their neighbors; instead of building their own nests, these resourceful owls will reuse the stick-nests of Corvids like Magpies, Crows, and Ravens. 

 

In the winter, Long-Eared Owls often roost communally in groups of 2 to 20. Early spring, before the leaves are out, is a great time to find their large nests. If you find one, look carefully, and you just might see a pair of “ears” poking out! 

MEDIA INQUIRIES 

 

We welcome all media inquiries. If you are a credentialed member of the media and wish to set up an interview or request further information, please e-mail liberty@owlresearchinstitute.org.

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

PHOTO CREDIT

 

We are so grateful to the photographers who capture owls, and our work, in the most amazing ways. They generously share their work with us, and you. Check out the works of some of the photographers whose work is featured on our site! They are incredible talented artists who are committed to wildlife conservation.

Thank you to:

Kurt Lindsay: https://kurtlindsay.smugmug.com/Nebulosa/i-7D8Wh9d

Daniel J Cox: http://naturalexposures.com

Radd Icenoggle: https://www.flickr.com/photos/radley521

Melissa Groo: https://www.melissagroo.com

Ly Dang: https://www.nature2pixels.com

Tom Murphy: https://www.tmurphywild.com/

Deborah Hanson

ABOUT US

 

The ORI is a non-profit, 501(c) 3, tax-exempt organization. We are funded by individual and non-profit  group donations, grants from foundations and corporations, and occasionally agency contracts.

We accept donations of real property. Please consider us in your estate planning.

Donations are tax-deductible to the extent of the law. Our federal tax identification number is 81-0453479.

CONTACT US

406-644-3412

 

PO BOX 39

Charlo, MT 59824

 

liberty@owlresearchinstitute.org

  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon

SUBSCRIBE FOR EMAILS

Copyright © 2018 Owl Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.