The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) breeds in Eurasia, and North America. It ranges from 13 to 16 inches in length with a 35 to 41 inch wingspan. Distinctive blackish ear-tufts emerge from the top of the head, making it appear larger when perched. With the orange facial discs, it often seems to look 'startled.' The strongly marked stripes and bars on the front, differ from the light barring on the Great Horned Owl.
Breeding from February to July, the habitat contains forest for nesting and roosting, with nearby open country for hunting. They do not build their own nests, utilizing abandoned nests of other birds such as hawks, crows, ravens and magpies, usually in conifers. An average of 4 to 6 eggs are laid, and are incubated about 24 to 30 days, by the female, with the male bringing food. Hunting is at night over open country, with the main prey consisting of rodents, small mammals, and sometimes birds. The ear tufts enable hearing accurate enough that they can catch prey in complete darkness.
They move south in winter from the northern parts their range, roosting communally, mainly in pines. Typically secretive, they may be hard to find. By searching pine stands near grasslands or pastures they might be found among dense branches often close to the tree trunk. Checking the ground for pellets, may offer a clue.
The variety of sounds, that are usually heard only during the breeding season, include low hoots, whines, shrieks, and cat-like sounds. Invaders approaching the nest may be distracted with a crippled bird act, or occasionally attacked. Raccoons are major predators of eggs and nestlings, while Great Horned and Barred Owls may attack adults. Illegal shooting and collision with vehicles also take a toll.