Asio otus otus Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Long-eared owl [En], Hibou moyen-duc [Fr], Ransuil [Nl], Waldohreule [De], Gufo commune [It], Búho Chico [Es], Αρκόθουπος , Νανόμπουφος [Gr], Kulaklı orman baykuşu [Tu], Erdei fülesbagoly [Hu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Apaj, PEST ● Hungary
Description: The long-eared owl is medium sized, brown and long-winged owl, with long ear-tufts and deep orange eyes. It is only half the size of eagle owl (Bubo bubo). It differs from the more similar Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) by darker (orange) eyes, longer ear-tufts and heavily streaked lower belly. In flight, note paler wing-tips (only finely barred, not tipped black).
The facial disc tends to be pale ochraceous tawny, rimmed black with relatively short eyebrows that are marked whitish or absent entirely of markings. In the nominate race, the erectile ear-tufts are prominent, being colored mainly blackish-brown with tawny edges. Their upperparts are ochraceous-tawny, finely peppered with dusky spots and blackish streaks on a grey "veil", while the crown is finely mottled in dusky. The nape and hindneck bear dusky shaft-streaks with the feather outer webs of the scapulars being whitish, forming a row across the shoulder. Primaries basally are uniformly ochraceous-tawny, distally barred light and dark, while the secondaries are barred ochraeous and dusky. The tail is typically tawny with a greyish wash, overlaid with 6-8 very narrow dark brown bars. The underparts have a base colour of ochre, with the foreneck and upper breast marked with blackish-brown streaks, thence becomes paler below and marked with dusky shaft-streaks and narrow cross bars. The underwing has distinctive barring and dark comma-like markings at the wrist (conspicuously lacking on overlapping Eurasian short-eared owls). The eyes tend to be yellowish orange to orange, but occasionally may be chrome yellow. The cere is brownish-flesh, the bill is grey and the talons are blackish grey. In the nominate subspecies, the downy chick is whitish with pink skin while the mesoptile plumage is fluffy greyish to brownish white diffusely barred dusky, flight and tail feathers, being similar to adults but ear tufts not yet developed.
• A. o. otus Linnaeus, 1758 -
A. o. canariensis Madarász, 1901 - Endemic to the Canary Islands – smallest variety of the long-eared owl species, darker than most nominate owls, and tend to have brighter reddish-orange eyes.
A. o. wilsonianus Lesson, 1830 - Entire range in the Americas, from British Columbia south to California, and in the east from Newfoundland to North Carolina, winters partially down as far south in Georgia, Texas, Mexico – More vividly marked than many Eurasian populations.
Biology: The long-eared owls derives almost of its food energy from rodents. Among this order, they are usually associated with a single group, the voles. Long-eared owls are more or less strictly nocturnal in activity. Usually activity for the species commences at dusk. When living relatively close to the Arctic, long-eared owls may be forced to forage during daylight as no full nightfall may occur during summer. Unlike most owls, which show a tendency towards territorial behavior on a fixed range year-around when possible, long-eared owls in the non-breeding season are often prone to occur in aggregations of owls while roosting.
Northern populations are migratory, showing a strong tendency to wander south in autumn. Central European adults are less migratory, at most merely wandering in winter.
Long-eared owls tend to be monogamous breeders. Non-migratory populations are usually monogamous throughout the year, the pair bond being renewed annually. Egg-laying is between normally between late March and early May in most of the range. Incubation begins with the first egg and continues for about 27–28 days. The female alone incubates while the male provides food, which is brought direct to nest. The young leave the nest at 20–27 days of age.
Habitat: Optimal habitat tends towards access to open landscapes with groups of trees, hedges or small woods, as well as pastureland with rows of trees and bushes, any type of forest with clearings, forest edges, semi-open taiga forest, swampy areas and bogs, especially those with willows, alder and poplars, orchards with old fruit trees, parks, cemeteries with trees and bushes, even gardens and timbered areas in villages, towns or cities. They tend to be absent above the montane tree line. The species has been recorded exceptionally nesting at 2,700 m above sea level in Kashmir. They have shown the ability to adapt to deserts, though more commonly semi-desert, and may nest and roost in available oases and adapting to hunt prey over the open desert ground, whether it is sandy or more rocky.
Distribution: The nominate subspecies may be found in Eurasia, as far west as the Azores, northwestern Africa, the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles through as far east as Sakhalin, Japan and northern China. Some populations of this race may winter as far south as in Egypt, Pakistan, northern India and southern China.
Wikipedia, Long-eared owl