Long-Eared Owl – Some Interesting Facts

Long-Eared Owls are bird species of the owl family (of course… duh!).

The scientific name of the long-eared owls is Asio otus. They belong to the Aves class and Strigidae family.

Not only are they interesting-looking, but they have various intriguing habits and characteristics.

Keep reading further to find out all you need to know about the Long-Eared Owls.


Long-eared Owls are medium-sized, approximately 34-37 cm in length, and have an 85-95 cm long wingspan.

Long-Eared Owl – Some Interesting Facts

They weigh light, around 200-350 grams, depending on their size.

This owl species is multi-colored with gray and brown feathers and a few black and white patches.

As the name suggests, these birds have small faces and long-looking ears.

They can be easily recognized from their large, round orange-colored eyes. They also have distinctive beaks and strong claws.

They can be considered furry birds as they are covered in feathers from their head to their toes.

Female long-eared Owls have brighter colors and are comparatively larger than their male counterparts.

Slimmest Owls of North America

Long-eared Owls are considered one of the slimmest owls of North American.

Their slim body acts as a weapon that helps protect and hide them from predators.

They can also camouflage with their surroundings and flatten out their feathers to merge with a tree.

Natural Habitat

The Long-eared Owls are commonly found in Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. They are scattered all over North America.

However, as these birds are nocturnal, locating them during the day is not so easy. They mostly nest in hilly areas and thick woodlands.

When it comes to nesting, Long-eared Owls do not make their own nests. Instead, they prefer abandoned nests left by crows, hawks or squirrels, etc.

They also prefer nesting in craters and holes in the ground.

Long-eared Owl is quite adaptable, and they can even survive in wild forests and deserts.

Some Long-eared Owls are found around the semi-deserts and oases in Africa, where they can be seen hunting openly over the sand lands.

Hunting Skills

Long-eared Owls are nocturnal, meaning they are most likely to hunt during the night. They may also hunt before dusk sometimes.

The Long-eared Owls are intelligent creatures who hunt their prey by listening to its sound. Once they detect prey nearby, they catch it using their sharp claws.

The flying speed of a Long-eared Owl goes up to 31 mph. The owl uses its speed and silent tactics to its advantage for catching its prey.

They can also see well in the dark, which helps them detect their prey and quickly lean in to attack them.


Long-eared Owls belong to the carnivorous family.

These predatory birds love feeding on small animals like rodents, voles, snakes, lizards, and similar small birds.

Apart from this, they also prefer insects depending on the availability of food.

Migratory Behavior

The Long-eared Owl does not migrate all around the year.

These birds are considered partially migratory as they prefer migrating towards the south as soon as winter starts.

Hearing Skills

The Long-eared Owls are known for having exceptional hearing skills.

They are considered to be tenfold timed better than humans.

Their ears are placed in a position that enables them to hear sounds both above ground level.

Long-eared owls use their incredible hearing to locate their prey even from miles away.

These owls are known as silent killers as they attack their predators in complete silence.

Defense Mechanism

When a threat is posed to Long-eared birds, they respond by spreading their wings. This makes them appear larger than their actual size and helps scare off their prey.

When baby owls are threatened by snakes or raccoons in their nests, both the male and female Long-eared Owls come in to rescue them.

They use the same wing-spreading technique to scare away the predators.

In some cases, nearby Long-eared Owls will join in their comrades to scare off the predators.

Mating Season

Long-eared Owls have an extensive mating season that starts from January or February and continues till July.

During mating season, male Long-eared owls try to lure the female by making various mating sounds and sometimes even performing flying routines.

Long-eared Owls mate and stick with their partner for the entire year until their baby matures.

Male and female owls use various hooting sounds for communication during this time.


Long-eared owls have various enemies and predators that are constantly looking out to attack them. Their enemies include hawks, eagles, falcons, goshawks, etc.

They are also sometimes attacked by other larger owls like great-horned owls, barred owls, eagle owls, etc.

Mating Sounds

Long-eared owls are known as one of the most secretive owl breeds. They barely make any sound except for when it is their mating season.

Long-eared owls are famous for their hooting noises.

The male Long-eared Owls produce around 200 low-pitched sounds. On the other hand, the females make more shrill and sharp hooting calls.

The calls sound similar to a cat’s noises or sometimes like a dog’s bark.

Hooting sounds made by male Long-eared Owls are low-pitched but can still be heard by female owls from up to 1 mile away.

Laying Eggs and Taking Care of Baby Owl

Female Long-eared Owls typically lay 4 to 10 eggs in their nest, spreading this over multiple days.

They do not lay all the eggs at once but do it in episodes and lay 1 to 2 eggs every other day.

The eggs are small in size, measuring up to 1 inch in length. They have a shiny white shell.

Female Long-eared Owls warm up these eggs all day, except for nighttime, where they sometimes fly off in search of food.

It takes up to 20 to 30 days for a Long-eared Owl’s eggs to fully hatch.

The female owl takes care of its baby and protects the nest for at least 12 to 14 days. After this, the female owls leave the nest, and the father has to take charge of the situation.

The male Long-eared Owls are responsible for finding food for both the baby owls and their mothers. Their diet comprises small insects and worms.

As the chicks begin to grow, their diet shifts to small mammals like rodents, lizards, etc.

Baby Owls Starts Flying after 3 Weeks

Baby owls begin flying when they are about three weeks old.

They are often referred to as branchlings at this stage. The male Long-eared Owls are still responsible for bringing food for their chicks or branchlings.

They begin flying in small intervals from the third week and gradually increase their pace over time.

They also begin practicing hunting for prey after when they are around 4 to 5 weeks old. When they are about 11 weeks old, the owls can fly, hunt, and care for themselves.

Solitary and Secretive

Long-eared Birds are known as solitary birds and prefer staying alone. However, they travel in packs sometimes and create howling noises together if a predator tries to attack them. 

Long-eared Birds are also very secretive and tend to stay away from human interaction or other animals as much as possible.

This is one reason their population is not 100% accurate, as it is difficult to track or locate them.

Longer Lifespan

The Long-Eared owl is known for having a long life span. They are said to survive for up to 25 to 30 years, depending on their physique and health.

One of the oldest Long-eared Owls to survive was nearly 28 years old.

Typically, the average lifespan is around 12 years. However, if a long-eared owl stays in the wild throughout its lifetime, it can survive for up to 25 to 26 years.

Conservation Status

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports, the Long-eared Owls have been declared part of the ‘Least Concern’ animals list.

This shows that the species is not under any threat currently. However, the number of Long-eared Owls in North America is constantly declining.

This is due to the ever-growing population and the constant destruction of a Long-eared Owl’s habitat.

Long-eared Owls are exceptional at keeping themselves hidden from other animals and human beings.

This is the major reason why scientists are yet to confirm an accurate number of their population.

To date, the average population of Long-eared Owls is predicted to be around fifty thousand.

Final Thoughts

We hope that by the end of this blog, you will now be well-versed with interesting facts about Long-eared Owls and are truly intrigued by them.

Now you can understand why bird-watchers from all around the world love these fascinating creatures.

If you wish to read more educational guides and informative blogs, stay tuned to this space.

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