Asio otus , Photo: Michael Lahanas
Asio otus Linnaeus, 1758
Systema Naturae ed.10 p.92
Asio otus (*)
The Long-eared Owl - Asio otus (previously: Stix otus) is a species of owl which breeds in Europe, Asia, and North America. This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known as typical owls, family Strigidae, which contains most species of owl. The other grouping of owls are the barn owls, family Tytonidae.
The Long-eared Owl is a medium sized owl, 31–37 cm in length with an 86–98 cm wingspan. It has erect blackish ear-tufts, which are positioned in the center of the head. The ear-tufts are used to make the owl appear larger to other owls while perched. The female is larger in size and darker in coloration than the male. The Long-eared Owl’s brownish feathers are vertically streaked. Tarsus and toes are entirely feathered. Eye disks are also characteristic in this species. However, the eye disks of A. otus are darker in color or rusty-orange. This nocturnal species is perhaps most easily seen perched in a tree in its daytime roost, sometimes in small groups during the winter months.
The Long-eared Owl's breeding season is from February to July. This bird is partially migratory, moving south in winter from the northern parts of its temperate range. Its habitat is forest close to open country.
It nests in trees, often coniferous, using the old stick nests of other birds such as crows, ravens and magpies and various hawks. The average clutch size is 4-6 eggs, and the incubation time averages from 25–30 days. It will readily use artificial nesting baskets. An unusual characteristic of this species is its communal roosting in thickets during the winter months. The young have a characteristic call, likened to a rusty hinge.
The Long-eared Owl hunts over open country by night. It is very long winged, like the similar Short-eared Owl, and glides slowly on stiff wings when hunting. Its food is mainly rodents, small mammals, and birds.
A number of subspecies have been noted in this species including A. o. otus, A. o. canariensis, A. o. tuftsi and A. o. wilsonianus A. o. otus has also been spelled as Aaio otus otus.
1. ^ BirdLife International (2004). Asio otus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* Davis, A. H. and R. J. Prytherch (1976) Field identification of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls British Birds 69: 281-7
* Erritzoe, J. & Fuller, R.A. (1999) Sex differences in winter distribution of Long-eared Owls (Asio otus) in Demark and neighbouring countries. Vogelwarte 40: 80-87.
John James Audubon illustrates the "Long-eared Owl - Strix otus" as Plate 383 in Birds of America, published London, 1827-38. The print was engraved by Robert Havell in 1837. The original watercolor was purchased from Audubon's destitute widow by The New York History Society where it remains to this day.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License