Long Eared Owl

Long-Eared Owl, Vancouver Island, BC
Long-Eared Owl, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo Copyright By Sean McCann

The Long-Eared Owl is a medium-sized owl, they have long feather tufts on their heads, from which they get their name. These owls are not often seen,  they hunt the deep forests at night.

They are sometimes confused with the great horned owls, but they are much smaller and have more light brown on the head and chest.

Long-eared Owls hunt mainly by ranging over open fields and natural meadows. They rarely hunt in the forest where they roost and nest. They hunt from dusk to dawn, flying a meter or 2 above the ground, with the head canted to one side listening for prey. When they see a meal, they pounce upon it quickly, pinning the prey to the ground with its powerful talons. Smaller prey is usually swallowed immediately, or carried away in the bill. Larger prey is carried in the talons. Long-eared Owls feed primarily on mammals. On the coast, it seems that deer mice, and rabbits are its main prey.

Long-eared owls do not build their own nests, but instead will look for nests built by a Cooper’s hawk or crows to raise their young in. Long-Eared Owls have an interesting nesting habit, instead of building their own nests, these owls will reuse the nests of crows and ravens.  In the winter, the Long-Eared Owls often roost communally in groups of up to 20. In the early spring, before the trees get their leaves, is a good time to look for their nests.

They are a rare and delightful sight on the coast, so if you see one here, consider yourself a very lucky person. I do find them to be so very beautiful to observe in the wild, its is a memory that will stay with you forever

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