Resident Raptor - Long-eared Owl
Aurora This partially flighted bird was found in November 1999 in Arizona
with a ruptured left patagial tendon: the tendon that stretches along the
top edge of the wing from shoulder to wrist. She can fly horizontally, but
is not able to fly up well enough for release. It is not known what caused
the injury, but it is most likely to have come from hitting a fence or wire.
She was transferred to CRC in June 2000.
Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
A slender, medium-sized owl with long, narrow, rounded
wings balanced by a long tail. The feathering of the upper body is a mottled
dark brown, gray, and buff; the underside is whitish to tan with dark brown
streaks and bars. Conspicuous "ear" tufts on a large, round head resemble
the features of the Great Horned Owl, but the Long-eared Owl's ear tufts are
located higher on the head. Sexes have similar plumage, but females have a
darker brown and deeper tan coloring. Yellow eyes with white "eyebrows" and a
black bill underlined with white stand out in a facial disc of rusty tan
feathers. This facial disc is a feature common to many owl species that rely
on hearing to hunt, and helps direct sound to the ear. The bend of the wing
shows a tan patch above, and a dark patch on the under wing which is visible
in flight. This owl flies with flattened ear tufts, in a buoyant and
irregular pattern. Camouflage is used for daytime protection by raising the
ear tufts and stretching into a defensive posture, allowing the owl's shape
and feathering to blend into a background of tree limbs. As with most
raptors, females are larger than males, and this species is smaller than its
cousin the Short-eared Owl.
Size - Length: avg. 15" • Wing Span: avg. 36" • Weight: avg. 9 oz.
Status - State and federally protected
Habitat - This owl lives in edge environments: places where open
country is found near wooded cover. Grasslands, shrub lands, meadows, or
other open area habitats that are near patches of deciduous or coniferous
forest will support this owl. They hunt in the open but need woodlands for
Diet - This bird is a nocturnal hunter that locates prey by sound.
Small mammals form 95% of the diet in North America, but some birds,
insects, amphibians, and reptiles may be taken as well. This owl hunts
actively by flying low over open areas and woodland edges, and flying below
the forest canopy in open forests. Most prey is captured on the ground,
although birds roosting in low vegetation may also be caught.
Call - Although silent most of the year, this species becomes more
vocal during breeding season. Ooack, ooack, ooack barks of alarm may be
heard at times, and adult males call attention to themselves with a widely
spaced, long series of hoo...hoo...hoo... notes.
Nesting - This owl takes over abandoned stick nests of other species,
usually without adding any new material. Magpies, crows, hawks, ravens, and
squirrels all construct tree-sited nests that attract Long-eared Owls. Their
nesting preference is within a grove of trees where dense cover is provided,
rather than in an isolated tree.
Most Common Problems - Sometimes collide with vehicles. A major
problem for this owl is loss of riparian woodland, isolated tree groves, and
open grassland habitat due to development, especially in the arid west.