Long-eared owl (Asio otus)
Species of medium size (approx. 40 cm, 280 gr), it is characterized by its large tufts, which can be visible since it is a chick and is covered by a thick down. The general plumage is brown and eyes are orange. The face is generally elongated, although it can change a lot if it feels threatened, hiding the “ears” and adopting a more rounded shape. The bill and nails are black.
If you find it perched, it has the appearance of a thick and short branch. In this situation Long Eared Owl will remain motionless with eyes half closed, compressed face and plumage very close to the body. Large tufts eliminate the possibility of confusion with any other species. Quite the opposite happens if it is sighted in flight, where we could easily mix it up with the Short Eared Owl.
They live in small groves and conifer forests conveniently surrounded by open areas to hunt. If the forest is very large, they occupy its shores.
Status and distribution
It seems to cover discontinuously the entire peninsula, resulting locally abundant in some areas and lacking in others. The annual density of this species is closely related to the amount of prey.
Breeding individuals of the Peninsula, where they behave as sedentary, belong to the nominate subspecies Asio otus otus. The harshest winters motivate the arrival in our country of specimens of more septeptrionales areas.
Silent species, often unseen.
The wintering individuals often form winter roots or small groups who rest during the day in the same place.
It hunts exclusively during night. It searches its prey by low flights, dropping to catch them.
The type of prey varies with the season. It preys primarily on rodents like voles, mice, rats and, in smaller proportion, on birds and insects. It ejects two pellets a day on average, one in the place of rest during the day and the other while hunting.
The mating season, which begins generally in February, includes “claps” performed in flight by hitting one wing against the other. They don’t build nests, using corvid’s old one. It has 3-5 eggs at intervals of 48h. The female incubates from the first one to 25-30 days. Chicks roam in branches since they are very small.
Although we cannot speak of colonialism, in this species there is a tendency to nest near other couples, being able to find several nests within a few kilometers.
(National Catalogue of Threatened Species.)