The Long-Eared Owl: The Vole Terminator

by Chris Anderson on February 13, 2024
The Long-Eared Owl: The Vole Terminator
The Long-Eared Owl is a fascinating bird of prey found in many parts of North America. This owl is easily recognizable with its distinctive long ear tufts and yellow eyes. But how did it get its name, and what makes it unique? In this lesson, we will explore the Long-Eared Owl and all it offers.


How the Long-Eared Owl Got Its Name

The Long-Eared Owl gets its name from its long ear tufts, not ears but feathers that serve various purposes. These tufts can be raised or lowered depending on the owl's mood, and they play a role in communication and camouflage. They are also an essential part of the owl's distinctive appearance.

Habitat & Range

Long-eared owls are found throughout North America, from Alaska to Central America. They prefer open forests, woodlands, and grasslands and can often be found near streams or other water sources. They are also known to inhabit urban areas such as parks and cemeteries.

Size, Weight & Wingspan

Long-eared owls are medium-sized with a wingspan of up to 40 inches and a weight of up to 1 pound. They are typically around 14-16 inches long. Despite their relatively small size, they are fierce hunters and can take down prey larger than themselves.

Differences Between Males and Females

Male and female Long-eared owls are similar in appearance, but females are generally larger and heavier than males. This is a common trait among birds of prey, as females need to be larger to lay and incubate eggs.

The Variety of the Long-Eared Owl's Diet

Long-eared owls are opportunistic hunters and will eat a wide variety of prey, including rodents, birds, insects, and even fish. They are particularly fond of voles, which comprise a large portion of their diet. Unlike many other owl species, long-eared owls are also known to hunt during the day.

Unique & Unusual Long-Eared Owl Behavior

One unusual behavior of the Long-Eared Owl is its ability to change the shape of its head. By rotating its neck and adjusting the position of its feathers, the owl can make its head appear larger or smaller. This can be used as a defense mechanism against predators or to intimidate other animals.

Reproduction and Nesting Behavior

Long-eared owls typically mate in the winter, and females will lay 3-8 eggs in a nest made of sticks and feathers. The male will bring food to the female while she incubates the eggs, and both parents will feed the young once they hatch. The young will leave the nest after around four weeks but will continue to be provided by their parents for several more weeks.

Threats The Long-Eared Owl Faces

Long-eared owls face several threats, including habitat loss, pesticides, and collisions with cars and buildings. They are also vulnerable to predation by larger birds of prey, such as eagles and hawks. Conservation efforts are underway to protect the Long-Eared Owl and its habitat.

One Amazing Fact About The Long-Eared Owl

One notable fact about the Long-Eared Owl is that it can hear prey moving under the snow. With its incredible sense of hearing, the owl can locate prey even when hidden from view. This makes the Long-Eared Owl an incredibly effective hunter and a fascinating bird to observe.


In conclusion, the Long-Eared Owl is a fascinating bird of prey with many unique characteristics. From its distinctive appearance to its unusual behaviors, this owl is genuinely one of a kind. As we work to protect the natural habitats of North America, let's remember to appreciate the beauty and diversity of all the creatures that call this continent home.