Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2011 - 16:45:13
| The Long-Eared Owl
By Sarah Lane
Aug 19, 2006, 13:28 PST
The Long-Eared owl is common in North America, Eurasia, and Northern Africa. It is identified by its two ears which are close together. This spooky owl stands 13-16 inches tall and has a 39 inch wingspan. It has a large rounded head with long ear tufts, yellow eyes, and rusty facial disks. Its upper body is grey-brown with small black and white markings. The white under parts are adorned with black, cross-shaped markings, similar to the Great Horned Owl.
The Long-Eared Owl is a nocturnal, predatory bird and it often roosts in dense conifers. Roosting is when the owls perch somewhere safe to rest or sleep. Long-Eared owls are buoyant fliers. They glide noiselessly through the air and can fly through fairly dense brush. These woodland owls can even stretch their bodies to make themselves look like tree branches!
Male Long-Eared owls are lighter than females. The female weighs 10 ounces and the male weighs about 9 ounces. Long-Eared owls hover and flutter while looking for prey. When the become alarmed they shriek like a cat! The owls hunt mainly from late dusk to early dawn and feed primarily on mammals. They munch on voles, deer mice, kangaroo rats, squirrels, bats, chipmunks, gophers, shrews, moles, cottontail rabbits, some birds, and sometimes insects and snakes.
To protect her nest from intruders, the female spreads her wings out widely, flaring her flight feathers and lowering her head to face the antagonist. This makes her appear 2 to 3 times larger than she really is. The young owls become independent from their parents at about 2 months of age.
Long-Eared owls nest in the abandoned stick nests of crows, magpies, ravens, hawks, or even herons in wooded areas. They are known to live as long as 10 years and they are natural enemies of the Great Horned and Barred Owls. They also must beware of racoons feeding on their eggs and nestlings.
Source: U.S. Geological Survey, Owlpages.com
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