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The Owls of North Dakota


Long-Eared Owl
Asio otus

JPG -- Picture of Species

Sometimes referred to as the "lesser horned owl," the long-eared owl is a slender crow-sized owl with long, close-set ear tufts. It closely resembles the great horned owl but can be distinguished by its smaller size and lack of a white throat bib. This owl is gray to brownish-gray in color, 13-16 inches long, and has a wingspread of 3 to 3 1/2 feet.

The long-eared owl is found in both the Old and NewWorld, living in North America, Europe and Asia. It prefers thick woods, but can be found in tree belts along western streams and even in desert oases. There is some southward migration in fall from the northern parts of its range. They are considered rare and of special concern in North Dakota.

Like the great horned owl, the long-eared owl uses nests abandoned by hawks, crows, magpies, herons, or squirrels, or in cavities of old stumps, and occasionally on the ground if tree nests are scarce. The long-eared owl will boldly defend its young and may strike an intruder with its talons.

The long-eared owl hunts almost exclusively at night and eats primarily mice, squirrels, and pocket gophers. It will occasionally eat small birds, as well as insects, frogs and small snakes. This owl is more secretive than most owls. When they are seen, they are usually found "frozen" close to the trunk of a large tree.


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