Home
University
Biking
Gymnastics
Fencing
Other sports
Cats
Other animals
Ireland
Links
Guestbook
Long-eared Owl

    Klick on pictures to enlarge

11th of May 2004 in our garden!

Note how the young owl tries to make itself bigger as David climbs the tree with his camera. Apparently, owls never take flight during day time. Maybe because they would be blinded by he light and fly right into the next tree.

Picture of a fully grown specimen.

The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus - “Waldohreule” in German) was first described in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778). Other Names for Long-eared Owls are American Long-eared Owl, Brush Owl, Cat Owl, Pussy Owl, Lesser Horned Owl, Ceder Owl and Coulee Owl.

Description: Long-eared Owls are medium-sized, nocturnal, woodland Owls, with a broad distribution across North America, Eurasia and northern Africa. They appear slim and slouch forward when perched. They have prominent ear tufts that appear to sit in the middle of the head and are usually held erect. Plumage is brown and buff, with heavy mottling and barring over most of the body. Male plumage tends to be lighter than females. The eyes are golden yellow, encircled by black feathers that are set in an orange-brown facial disk. The bill is black. The forehead and lores are mottled grey and white and there is a white chin patch. The legs and feet are heavily feathered.
Juveniles are similar to adults but less heavily marked. The head tufts are shorter and less defined and facial disk darker. Body feathers are tipped with greyish white.

Long-eared Owls are buoyant fliers, appearing to glide noiselessly even when their wings are flapping. They are very manoeuvrable and can fly through fairly dense brush. They fly moth-like, often hovering and fluttering while looking for prey. When roosting, a Long-eared Owl will stretch its body to make itself appear like a tree branch.

Size: Female average Length: 37cm (14.6") Wingspan: 100cm (39") Weight: 282g
Male average Length: 34cm (13.4") Wingspan: 96cm (38") Weight: 259g

Voice: The main advertisement call of the male is a low "hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, .....", repeated 10 to 200 times, with one note every 2 to 3 seconds. The female responds with a raspy buzz call, and often duets with the male. Calling occurs almost always during nocturnal hours. When alarmed, Long-eared Owls bark "whek-WHEK-whek" or shriek like a cat. Both males and females hiss during exchange of prey or when alarmed.

Hunting & Food: Long-eared Owls hunt mainly by ranging over open rangeland, clearings, and fallow fields. They rarely hunt in woodlands where they roost and nest. They hunt mainly from late dusk to just before dawn, flying low to the ground, (1 to 2 meters (3 to 7 feet)), with the head canted to one side listening for prey. When prey is spotted, the Owl pounces immediately, pinning the prey to the ground with its powerful talons. Smaller prey is usually swallowed immediately, or carried away in the bill. Larger prey is carried in the talons.
Long-eared Owls feed primarily on mammals. Prey includes squirrels, bats, chipmunks, gophers, shrews, moles, and cottontail rabbits. Birds are also taken, occasionally on the wing. Most bird prey are smaller species that occur on or near the ground. Bird prey includes meadowlarks, blackbirds, juncos, Horned Larks, doves, bluebirds, and thrashers. Larger birds such as grouse and screech-Owls are occasionally taken. Long-eared Owls sometimes eat insects, frogs, and snakes.
Pellets are fairly large, about 5.1 centimetres (2 inches) long and 1.9 centimetres (0.75 inches) thick. Pellets are oval or cylindrical, greyish, and compact with many bones, skulls, and teeth. They are regurgitated 3 to 4 hours after eating.

Breeding: Males occupy nesting territories first and may begin their territorial calling in winter. Nesting occurs mainly from mid March through May in North America. During courtship, males perform display flights around nests. Display flights involve erratic gliding and flapping through the trees with occasional single wing claps. Females respond by giving their nest call. The female selects a nest by hopping around it, while the male displays above. She then performs display flights as well, and flies repeatedly to the nest. Leading up to mating, the male approaches the female after calling and performing display flights, then waves his wings as he sidles up to her. Mutual preening and courtship feeding also occur. After pairing, adults roost close together, but the female tends to roost on the nest after it has been selected.
Long-eared Owls nest almost exclusively in old stick nests of crows, magpies, ravens, hawks, or herons. They nest rarely in rock crevices, tree cavities, or on open ground. Nests are almost always located in wooded sites, often screened by shrubbery, vines, or branches and are commonly 5 to 10 meters (16 to 33 feet) above ground.
Long-eared Owls have an impressive nest defence display - the female spreads her wings out widely facing the intruder, flares her flight feathers, and lowers her head. This display makes her appear 2 to 3 times as large as she really is. They also perform a distraction display near nests, where the Owl pretends to capture prey, or feign injury, and flop away from the nest on the ground making various noises. They will occasionally attack viciously, aiming the talons at the face and throat of the intruder.
Old nests are lined with bark strips, feathers, leaves, and moss before eggs are laid. Clutch sizes range from 3 to 8 eggs, with an average of 4 to 5 eggs. Clutch sizes tend to increase from south to north and from east to west. Eggs are laid irregularly every 1 to 5 days and incubation begins with the first egg laid, so that a clutch of 6 eggs may hatch over a period of 10 to 12 days. The female performs the incubation which lasts 25 to 30 days. Nestlings begin to walk out of the nest onto nearby branches at about 3 weeks, but are not capable of flight until about 5 weeks. Young become independent from parents at about 2 months. Nesting success is strongly linked to food availability and predation. Long-eared Owls are usually single-brooded, however double-brooding has been observed [by me!]. If a clutch of eggs is lost, a replacement clutch may be laid about three weeks later.
 

Mortality: Captive Long-eared Owls have been known to live for over 10 years. Many are killed by shooting and collision with vehicles. Natural enemies of adult birds include Great Horned and Barred Owls. Raccoons are major predators of eggs and nestlings.

Habitat: Long-eared Owls inhabit open woodlands, forest edges, riparian strips along rivers, hedgerows, juniper thickets, woodlots, and wooded ravines and gullies. Breeding habitat must include thickly wooded areas for nesting and roosting with nearby open spaces for hunting. During winter, they need dense conifer groves or brushy thickets to roost in. Roosting sites are usually in the heaviest forest cover available. They will also roost in hedgerows, or in caves and cracks in rock canyons.
Unlike most other Owls, during winter they may roost communally (7 to 50 Owls) in dense thickets and range over very large undefended foraging areas. Communal roost sites are often used year after year, probably by the same birds.

This information was copied from here: http://www.owlpages.com/species/asio/otus/Default.htm

Go there to hear the different calls of  owls!