Wednesday 23rd August 2017
Species Guide
Long-Eared Owl - Asio otus


The Long-Eared Owl is found in Europe, Asia, North Africa, Scandinavia, Siberia, Japan and North America.

The female lays from 4 to 5 eggs in March/April. Incubation is 27 to 28 days and the young leave the nest at 20 to 25 days and they are able to fly well at 35 days.

Long-Eared Owls are fairly common locally and widespread. Because they use old crows nest they are often mistakenly shot by farmers trying to keep the crow population down.

The Long-Eared Owl is a shy, secretive Owl and like the Tawny Owl is almost entirely nocturnal. Unlike most Owls this Owl will roost in quite large numbers together. They like both broad leaved and evergreen woodland to nest in but like to hunt over more open ground.

The Long-Eared Owl can change it's shape quite dramatically; when roosting and relaxed it has a rounded shape but when alarmed or disturbed it can make itself very thin and almost invisible. Their large ear tufts also help break up their outline. Like the Barn Owl and Tawny Owl, it can open and close the facial disk; when sleeping it is closed and when listening for prey it becomes fully open. It hunts mainly by hearing and is a very accomplished night hunter. Their ear openings are very large and run almost the whole length of the face, and like the Barn Owls they are asymmetrical.

The main diet of the Long-Eared Owl consists of mice, voles and rats. They hunt on the edge of woodland and rough grassland and fly very slowly and close to the ground.

The feather colour ranges from yellowish brown to grey with white spotting and they have orange eyes. Their wings are longer than the Barn Owls and have orange or buff markings across the primaries.

The call of the Long-Eared Owl ranges from deep hoots to a noise similar to blowing through a comb.

The Long-Eared Owl nests in the woodland and will use old crows nests or squirrel dreys.

There are approximately 2.000 breeding pairs of Long-Eared Owls in Britain. This number is boosted from October to May when Long-Eared Owls come over from Europe for the winter.

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