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Long-eared Owl

Asio otus ORDER: STRIGIFORMES FAMILY: STRIGIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A bird of temperate forests, the Long-eared Owl roosts and nests in trees by day and hunts in open areas by night. Though widespread and relatively common in its range, it is rarely seen.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
13.8–15.7 in
35–40 cm
Wingspan
35.4–39.4 in
90–100 cm
Weight
7.8–15.3 oz
220–435 g
Other Names
  • Hibou moyen-duc (French)
  • Buho chico (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • It has been shown under controlled conditions that the Long-eared Owl can catch mice in complete darkness.
  • Like some other owls, the Long-eared Owl has asymmetrical ear openings: the left ear opening is higher than the right. This positioning helps the bird to locate prey by sound.
  • The hoot of the male Long-eared Owl can sometimes be heard up to 1 kilometer (0.7 mi) away.

Habitat


Forest

Dense vegetation adjacent to open grassland or shrubland, and open forests.

Food


Mammals

Small mammals; sometimes birds.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–10 eggs
Egg Description
White.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless, eyes closed, covered in white down.
Nest Description

Uses stick nests built by other bird species, including Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, and hawks. In rare cases, nests in cavities.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Soaring

Hunts almost exclusively at night. Flies low over open ground, locating prey by ear. Kills prey with a bite to the back of the skull; often swallows prey whole.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Listed as Endangered in Illinois, Threatened in Iowa, and as a species of special concern in several states. Habitat loss from land development is the probable cause of declines in California and New Jersey.

Credits

  • Marks, J. S., D. L. Evans, and D. W. Holt. 1994. Long-eared Owl (Asio otus). In The Birds of North America, No. 133 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists' Union.

Range Map Help

Long-eared Owl Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings