The Long-eared Owl
A Long-eared Owl is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Long-eared Owls. We have also put together a list of fun Long-eared Owl t-shirts, Long-eared Owl bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Long-eared Owls
The Long-eared Owl is a bird native to North America and has been found to breeding in Asia and Europe. They are also called the Northern Long-eared Owl and are medium-sized when compared to other types of birds in the same family. Their most distinguishing factor is their long cat-like ears hence their name. Their conservation status may not be well known but their local numbers keep on fluctuating. Although not clear, survey numbers suggest a decline in numbers due to the loss of habitats.
Description and Identification
Long-eared Owls are medium-sized owls around 13.8 – 15.8 inches in length. These slender
owls derive their names from their long ear tufts, a feature that characterizes them. Their
heads bear a squarish resemblance due to their wide and long composition, with long and
narrow facial disks. Their wingspan usually ranges between 35.4 – 39.4 inches. These birds
are fairly dark with buff faces and an intricate black, brown, and buff patterning on their
feathers. Their long ear tufts are also black, with buff or oranges fringes. Their faces have
two vertical white lines between their yellow eyes. These owls display reverse sexual
dimorphism, with females usually being a little larger than males.
Long-eared Owl Color Pattern
Positioned at the center of their heads are two erect blackish ear tufts. They have a dark grayish-brown color on their upper sides while their underparts are brown with white streaks.
Long-eared Owl Size
They are medium-sized birds ranging between 31-40cm in length and a wingspan of 86-100cm. Their body weight spans 178-435g.
Long-eared Owl Behavior
The Long-eared Owl is partially migratory moving south from their northern North America breeding grounds during the winter season. The birds are quite secretive making it difficult for bird watchers to locate them.
The course back and forth on low open grounds when looking for prey and hunt on the wing. Sometimes, they hover over prey or perch-hunt during strong winds. They hunt at night and have a very sensitive hearing ability to be able to hear rodents and large insects surrounding their habitat.
Long-eared Owl Food
Long-eared Owls are predators that mainly eat small mammals. Their prey includes voles,
kangaroo rats, shrews, pocket gophers, rabbits, young rats, and many kinds of mice. They
primarily hunt at night and forage over fields or in open woods before locating their prey by
sound or by sight. Their acute hearing aids them in finding their prey in complete darkness.
On rarer occasions, their diet also includes small birds, moles, bats, weasels, chipmunks,
squirrels, snakes, and lizards.
Their main diet comprises small mammals commonly dependent on the local habitat. They eat rodents which range from mice, voles, rats, and pocket gophers among others. They also feed on small birds, lizards, shrews, bats, and snakes.
Long-eared Owl Habitat
These birds are found roosting in dense vegetation and foraging in open grasslands or
shrublands. They can also be found in open coniferous or deciduous woodlands near open
meadows. They can adapt to a wide range of environments and are found at elevations
ranging from sea level to above 6,500 feet. Despite their wide range, they tend to avoid
unbroken forests. They seem to prefer nesting in trees such as willows, cottonwoods, and
junipers. These nests are frequently found in areas adjacent to shrubsteppe or in brushy
vegetation adjacent to open habitats.
They live in woodlands and coniferous groves. The Long-eared Owl prefers dense forest for nesting and roosting and open country habitats for hunting.
Range and Migration
Long-eared Owls are nocturnal predators that have an extensive breeding range in both the
old world and the new world. These birds are partially migratory and seem to usually travel in
response to changing food supplies, but some populations migrate short distances during
seasonal changes. Their breeding range covers most of southern and central Canada before
extending towards northern, north-western, and central United States. The northern-most
the population of their breeding range withdraws towards southern regions during the winter.
Non-breeding populations are also frequently found along the Atlantic coasts and inland
areas of the southern United States and Mexico. However, a vast majority of these owls tend to
be year-round residents of their breeding areas.
Long-eared Owl Life Cycle
The longest living Long-eared Owl was recorded to have lived for over 27 years in the wild probably because of its secretive nature. Female lay between 2-10 eggs and incubate them for 26-28 days. After the young hatch, they take about 5 weeks to begin a short flight.
Long-eared Owl Nesting
Like many other owl species, Long-eared Owls generally use nests that are abandoned by
other bird species. These sites are typically stuck nests on trees but can sometimes be
located within cavities in trees or cliffs. They most commonly use nests built by Common
Ravens, American Crows, and Black-billed Magpies. On rare occasions, their nests can be
located in abandoned squirrel nests, in crooks of saguaro cactus, or on the ground. The
average height for these nesting sites can range from 4 – 30 feet above the ground.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Long-eared Owls
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Long-eared Owls are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Long-eared Owl T-shirts
If you love the Long-eared Owl you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Long-eared Owl Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Long-eared Owl is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Long-eared Owl Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Long-eared Owl. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Long-eared Owls
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Long-eared Owls
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.