The Long-eared owl (Asio otus) is a slender, grayish-brown woodland owl that’s characterized by long, upright ear tufts positioned in the middle of its head. At one time, its distinctive ears earned it the nickname “cat owl.”
Long-eared owls can be found in the open woodlands, thickets, and forest edges of North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Their diets consist almost entirely of small mammals, primarily voles and mice, which they’re able to locate in complete darkness due to the asymmetrical positioning of their ear openings. They fly back and forth over low-cover areas to locate their food; their flight is light and buoyant and is often compared to that of a large moth.
Long-eared owls do not build their own nests; instead, they settle in abandoned stick nests of magpies, crows, hawks, and squirrels. They tend to become dispersed and territorial during their breeding season (which typically occurs between mid-March and early June), whereas during the winter months, they roost communally to keep warm, often in clusters of 7–50 birds.
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