Long-eared Owl

Asio otus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Birds
  3. Birds of prey
  4. Long-eared Owl


Long-eared owls are shy, nocturnal birds of coniferous forests, plantations and mixed woodlands and can be seen in communal roosts of over 20 birds. Small mammals such as voles form the most part of the long-eared owl's diet but birds are also important. The long-eared owl hunts out its prey by sweeping clearings and fields in a zig-zag flying pattern, scanning the ground for movement. Once prey is spotted the owl swoops down and dispatches its victim on the ground by biting the back of the head. Long-eared owls breed from February onwards, using old nests or tree hollows to lay their eggs.

How to identify

Long-eared owls are mottled brown with orangey-red eyes and long wings. Long 'ear' tufts give them their common name. The very similar short-eared owl is paler with yellow eyes and short ear tufts and is more diurnal. Usually found near grassland and salt marshes.

Where to find it

Breeds across the UK but fewer birds in the south-west and Wales. Most likely to be seen on migration at the coast or returning to winter roosts.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Although the long-eared owl is not declining, their woodland habitats are disappearing. Across town and country, local Wildlife Trusts manage woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Long-eared Owl
Latin name
Asio otus
Birds of prey
Length: 35-37cm Wingspan: 95cm Weight: 290g Average Lifespan: 4 years
Conservation status
Common. Listed under CITES Appendix II.