California Raptor Center

Long-eared Owl

Scientific Name: Asio otus
(Asio is Latin for ‘horned owl’ and otus is also Latin for 'horned owl’).

Size: Length: 13-16in Wingspan: 36-42in        

Weight: Female: 310-342g (~0.68-0.75lb) Male: 178-314g (~0.39-0.69lb)

Lifespan: Can live to be around 25-27 years in both the wild and captivity.

ID: Adults have conspicuous ear tufts. The ear tufts may be completely invisible when they are laid down, as they are in flight. Its colors are similar to the Great Horned Owl although its slender shape, smaller size, large round orangey facial disk, (that extends far above its eyes), and cross barred chest set it apart. The facial disk is circled with black that often has distinctive white inner and outer borders; white eyebrows and lores; orange to lemon yellow iris; and black around the eyes. The upper parts are dark brown mixed with white, black, orange, buff, and gray. The under parts have a white base color with some mix of orange and bold dark brown cross barring. The white tail feathers are barred with dark brown (note the distinct difference of the fine horizontal bars on the under parts of the Great Horned Owl). The juvenile's facial disk, wings, and tail are similar to the adult. The other parts of the juvenile plumage are orangey-brown to russet-tinted and broadly barred with blackish-brown and grayish-white.

Hunting: Mostly a perch hunter, but will hunt on the wing.

Prey: Small mammals

Breeding: The Long-eared Owl does not build its own nest and instead will use old Crow, Magpie, dreys of squirrels, or other large abandoned stick nests. Irregularly it will also use a natural cavity in a tree, cliff, or on the ground. The average clutch consists of 5 -7 eggs, more during years of abundant prey. The incubation period is usually 25 -28 days. The incubation is done by the female although the male may irregularly sit on the eggs for short periods. At 21 days the chicks will leave the nest to adjacent branches although remain flightless until they are about 35 days old. The male and the female will feed the young while in the branching stage (stage where the young live on nearby branches) and the male alone, after he is deserted by the female, will continue to feed the young for up to 10 weeks of age (2 - 3 weeks after the female has left).

Range: The Long-eared owl is spread across the Northern Hemisphere around the world.

Status: Long-eared owls are protected under CITES Appendix II and the U.S. Migratory Bird Act. They are not federally endangered or threatened in the United States.