Long-eared Owl

The Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus) is a medium sized owl with brown and yellowish brown plumage. It has spots, patches and bars of color over the majority of its body. It doesn’t have long ears, but rather long tufts of feathers called ear tufts that resemble ears. It has a black bill and heavily feathered legs and feet. The facial disc is reddish brown to yellowish brown in color. Females are often darker in color than males. Its feather assemblage allows it to have noiseless flight and maneuver easily within densely covered forests.

This owl is nocturnal and is active mostly at dusk. It is found in Europe, Asia and North America where it hunts mammals, including voles, deer mice, kangaroo rats, squirrels, bats, chipmunks, gophers, shrews and many others. When perched, it often disguises itself to look like a tree branch by spreading its wings and body. It resides in the woodlands, the edges of forests and riparian zones, among others. In the winter they roost in more densely covered areas such as a thicket or in caves and are often found roosting communally.

Nesting sites are chosen during courtship behaviors. The male owl will perform display flights around potential nests and then wait for a female to then show her interest in a particular nest by hopping around it. Often nest sites are found in old crow or hawk nests made of sticks that are well-covered by dense forest and at least 15-30 feet off of the ground. From mid March to May, an average of 4-5 eggs are laid. Females aggressively guard their nests. Long-Eared owls can live for up to 10 years. Threats include threats by humans and death by road kill. Natural enemies include raccoons invading nests for eggs and young owl babies. Great Horned owls and Barred owls can also become threats to this owl.