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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Long-eared Owl -- Asio otus

RANGE: Breeds from northern Yukon, southwestern Mackenzie, northern Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, south to northern Baja California, southern Arizona, western and central Texas, Arkansas, northern Ohio, western Virginia, and New England. Winters from southern Canada south to Baja California, Mexico, southern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Georgia; casually to Florida.

STATUS: Locally common.

HABITAT: Often inhabits coniferous woodlands but also deciduous forests and forested areas near open country. Also will inhabit open or dense woodlands, parks, orchards, woodlots, wooded swamps, streams, and reservoir shorelines, even low-growing scrub if it is in the form of dense, tangled thickets. Occurs up to 10,000 feet.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dense vegetation for nesting and roosting cover.

NEST: Most often uses old nests of large birds such as crows, hawks, ravens, herons, or magpies, but will use squirrel nests and natural tree cavities. Usually locates nest 15 to 30 feet above the ground, but may nest on the ground or on ledges. Rarely, will construct own nest.

FOOD: Forages over wooded and open country, preying primarily on mice and other small mammals. Also eats some bats, cottontails, small birds, frogs, small snakes, and insects.

REFERENCES: Armstrong 1958, DeGraff et al. 1980, Heintzelman 1979, Johnsgard 1979, Karalus and Eckert 1974.

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