13-16" (33-41 cm). A slender, crow-sized owl with dark, long ear tufts closer together than on most other owls. Gray-brown mottling above and dark vertical streaks below;face orange to buff; eyes yellow-orange.
Similar Species- Great Horned Owl, Screech- owls
A drawn out hoot: hoooo, repeated at intervals, and cat-like wails.
Breeds from southern and eastern British Columbia, east across parts of Canada, and south to northwestern Baja California, southern New Mexico, northern Mexico, Arizona, and Virginia. Winters from southern Canada, south to northern Baja California, central Mexico, and Gulf Coast.
Found in deciduous and evergreen forests, orchards, wooded parks, farm woodlots, river woods, and desert oases. In western states, often associated with deciduous woods near water. Uses wooded areas for roosting and nesting, and open areas for hunting.
Feeds on small mammals, particularly voles (usually weighing less than 100 g). In Idaho, typical prey includes moles, kangaroo rats, harvest mice, and pocket mice, but particular prey varies with locality; prey size is most important factor in food selection.
Flies at low altitudes to locate prey. Typically forages in open, grassy areas, (e.g., marshes or old fields), but may forage in forests in some areas. Nocturnal, though diurnal foraging may occur at high latitudes, or when feeding young. Uses abandoned tree nest of other species, often corvids. May form loose nesting colonies and perform group distraction displays. Breeding density is generally not more than 1-2 pairs/km2, and is often much less. In Idaho study, colonies nested in clumps of trees, rather than single tree. Individuals are gregarious in winter.
Nests mainly from mid-March to mid-May, depending on area. Female (usually) incubates an average of 4-5 eggs for 25-30 days. Young leave nest at 20-26 days, fly at 30-40 days, become independent at about 2 mo, and reach sexual maturity in first year. In Idaho study, fledged young/nest ranged from 3.4-4.0. Predators such as racoons cause most nest failures.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
Marks, J.S. 1986. Nest-site characteristics and reproductive success of long-eared owls in southwestern Idaho. Wilson Bull. 98:547-560.