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Going by the names northern long-eared owl, lesser horned owl, and cat owl, the long-eared owl (Asio otus) is a medium-sized species with a broad breeding range. Identified as least concerned by the IUCN, the long-eared owl is a specialized predator that preys mostly on small rodents.
See the fact file below for more information on the long-eared owl or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Long-Eared Owl worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
TAXONOMY AND ETYMOLOGY
- Its scientific name, Asio otus, refers to a small, eared owl.
- Even though these eared owls are widespread, only seven extant species are listed, four of which inhabit Eurasia, Africa, and America, which includes both the long-eared and short-eared owls.
- Currently, long-eared owls have three to four subspecies, namely: (1) A. o. otus, (2) A. o . canariensis, and (3) A. o. wilsonianus.
- A. o. Canariensis lives in the Canary Islands, with a wing chord measuring 10.1 to 11.2 inches, making it the smallest subspecies of the long-eared owl. It appears darker than other long-eared owls of the nominate subspecies, displaying heavier and sharper dark colorings overall. These subspecies also possess vibrant reddish-orange eyes.
- A. o. wilsonianus is endemic to the Americas, scattered across British Columbia south to California, then east from Newfoundland to North Carolina, and even as far south as Georgia, Texas, Mexico, and sometimes Florida. Its wing chord measures 11.2 to 12.0 inches, appearing to be more vividly marked than its Eurasian relatives. The fasial disc is vibrant rufuoys, with a strong blackish rim and extensive white markings. Its eyes are usually deep yellow, and its underside is filled with blackish markings with prominent cross bars.
- A. o. otus subspecies are scattered throughout the Palearctic, which spans as far west as the Azores, northwestern Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, and the British Isles and goes as far east as Sakhalin, Japan, and northern China. Other populations even reach as far south as Egypt, Pakistan, northern India, and southern China. Their wing chord reaches 10.4 to 12.3 inches, with tail lengths of 5.2 to 6.5 inches. Their facial disc appears pale ochraceous tawny, rimmed black with short eyebrows that may be whitish or may lack any markings. Their pointed ear-tufts are prominent, covered mainly with blackish-brown feathers with tawny edges. The upper parts are ochraceous-tawny, with dusky spots and blackish streaks on a gray “veil”, while the crown is mottle to dusky. Its napehas dusky shaft-streaks with the feather outer webs of the scapulars appearing whitish, creating a row across the shoulder. Its tail is usually tawny with a grayish wash, overlaid with six to eight narrow dark brown lines. Its underparts are covered with ochre feathers, with the foreneck and upper breast filled with blackish-brown streaks. The underwing contains noticeable barring and dark comma-shaped markings at the wrist.
BEHAVIOR AND ECOLOGY
- Long-eared owls are generally nocturnal. They are active at night.
- After nightfall, these owls in Idaho were known to be least active from 8 to 10 pm and 5 to 6 am. Their peak times of activity take place around 10 to 12 pm and 3 to 5 am.
- Long-eared owls living near the Arctic are forced to search for food during daylight, as no full nightfall happens during summer. When foraging by day, they are often mobbed by diurnal birds like the corvids and other birds of prey.
- Occasionally, long-eared owls will excrete large amounts of pellets and drop them below regular day roosts.
- Unlike the majority of owl species, these owls have no established territorial hunting ground.
- Long-eared owls are preyed upon by larger owls, especially the Eurasian eagle owl and diurnal raptors.
- These owls live in a number of competitive environments of the temperate zone, together with other birds of prey.
VOCALIZATION AND EAR MORPHOLOGY
- Long-eared owls have large ear slits located asymmetrically on the corners of their head, with the left ear set higher than the right ear in order to let them absorb sound both from above and below. This ear slit almost occupies the full height of the skull, being about 1.5 inches long and covered in movable flaps of skin.
- Due to the structure of its ear, the hearing of a long-eared owl tends to be ten times better at listening to high and medium pitches compared to humans.
- Vocalizations produced by long-eared owls are highly variable. Those in Michigan were recorded to produce 23 different vocalizations. The song of the male long-eared owl appears to be a deep whoop, which is iterated at intervals of several seconds. It begins with some lower-pitched hoots before peaking in full volume and quality. On calm nights, this song may be amplified to over one to two kilometers away.
- Females, on the other hand, give weaker, less clear, and higher-pitched songs with some nasal bearings. A female’s call can sometimes be compared to a weak tin whistle that is only audible at close range.
- Both sexes produce a cat-like, somewhat hoarse “jaiow” notes or high yip-yip notes, with the latter resembling the call made by barn owls.
- Because of their number, which is estimated to be between 2 to 5.5 million, the IUCN categorizes the long-eared owl as a least concerned species, suggesting their broad range compared to their short-eared cousins.
- In the north, these owls are scarce to absent in regions of the deep boreal forest and the treeless northern parts, such as around large wetland bogs or lower tundra, where the short-eared species tend to supplant them.
- Local threats to long-eared owls include pesticides and persecution by humans, which are brought about by myth and ignorance.
Long-Eared Owl Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Long-Eared Owl across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Long-Eared Owl worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the northern long-eared owl, lesser horned owl, and cat owl, the long-eared owl (Asio otus) which is a medium-sized species with a broad breeding range. Identified as least concerned by the IUCN, the long-eared owl is a specialized predator that preys mostly on small rodents.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Long-Eared Owl Facts
- Lanky Long-Eared Owls
- Labeling Long-Eared Owls
- A Cat Owl’s Life
- Long And Short
- Test Yourself
- Hoo Hoo Wiki
- Listing More Owl Facts
- Other Owl Species
- An Owl’s Tale
- Feelin’ Like An Owl
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Link will appear as Long-Eared Owl Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, December 4, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.