Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Long-eared owl

Asio otus

Photo by Greg Smith (Wikipedia)

Common name:
long-eared owl (en); bufo-pequeno (pt); hibou moyen-duc (fr); búho chico (es); waldohreule (de)

Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

This species is found throughout most of Europe, North America and Asia, between 20º N and 65º N. They are also found in north-western Africa.

These birds are 35-38 cm long and have a wingspan of 96-100 cm. They weigh 260-280 g.

The long-eared owl is found in a wide range of habitats, typically in areas of dense vegetation with nearby open areas for hunting. These include boreal, temperate and tropical forests, grasslands, scrublands, marshes and swamps, and plantations. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.750 m.

They hunt during the night, mainly taking small rodents, bats, moles, rabbits, small birds, insects, frogs and snakes.

Long-eared owl are typically monogamous, but polygyny has been recorded occasionally. They breed in February-July and nest on old stick nests of crows, ravens, magpies, buzzards or herons, located in a tree branch, 5-10 m above the ground. The female lays 3-8 glossy white eggs, which she incubates alone for 25-30 days while the males brings her food. The chicks are fed by the female while the males hunts for the whole family and move into branches near the nest after about 21 days, but only fledge 5 weeks after hatching. The chicks only become fully independent several weeks after fledging.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 1,5-5 million individuals. The long-eared owl has undergone a small decrease in North America, but it is not threatened at present.

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