The long-eared owl may be found in many areas of Britain and Ireland, but it is not common and, being nocturnal, it is rarely seen.


Long-Eared Owl Habits

During the day: Long-eared owls hide away, roosting amongst thickly-branched trees. In the autumn and winter, groups of up to 20 owls may roost together. Sometimes a roosting bird, or an anxious one, sits close to the trunk of a tree and pulls itself into an upright, slender shape; this helps it to blend in with its surroundings.

Hunting and feeding: All owls have flattened faces, forward-facing, sensitive eyes and excellent hearing - adaptations which allow them to find their prey in very dim light. Owls can fly silently because of their soft feathers and this allows them to pounce on their victims without warning. The powerful claws seize the prey, perhaps a mouse, quickly killing it. The hooked bill may be used for carrying prey and ripping it apart.

The prey of the long-eared owl depends on the area where the owl lives. In some places, many birds are eaten, but small mammals are generally the most important food. Sometimes a pair of owls may hunt together, one of them flushing out the prey while the other pounces.

Breeding: Long-eared owls begin to breed from late February onwards. These owls are usually silent, but during courtship the birds clap their wings and make strange-sounding wailing and yelping noises. A low, sighing "oo-oo-oo" may also be heard!

Three to eight white eggs are laid in an old nest belonging to a crow or a pigeon, but sometimes they are laid on the ground in a scrape under a tree or amongst heather on moorland. The female incubates the eggs for 25 - 30 days. The newly-hatched chicks are rounded in shape and covered in a thick, white down. The male bird brings voles, mice and birds to the nest and the female feeds these to the babies. The owlets' down is gradually replaced by adult feathers and they fledge (ready to fly) at 23 or 24 days old.

If the nest is threatened by a possible predator, one of the adults tries to frighten it off by drooping its wings and puffing up its back feathers to frame its head. This makes the bird appear much larger than it really is.

Read More: Long-Eared Owl and Humans

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