Saturday, 4 June 2016

Bird of the week - Long-eared owl

I have never seen a long-eared owl in the wild.  These photos were taken on my recent Birds of Prey photoshoot with Alan Hewitt and Andy Howey.

Seen close up like this the long-eared owl is a beautiful bird, a bit like a miniature eagle owl.  It has similar plumage and ear tufts and the same orange eyes of a dusk and dawn hunter.  The ear tufts, of course, are nothing of the sort.

Because the long-eared owl (Asio otus) is rare there are no population trends available.  Its geographical distribution favours northern and eastern parts of the UK.

In Thomas Bewick's time the long-eared owl was common bird.  He wrote "This bird is common in various parts of Europe, as well as in this country; its usual haunts are in old ruined buildings, in rocks, and in hollow trees.".  This is his engraving from A History of British Birds published in 1797.

The long-eared owl is also found in North America.  This illustration is by John James Audubon in Birds of America, one of 435 watercolours published between 1827 and 1838.
You can watch a BTO video on long-eared owl ID here.  And listen to the BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on long-eared owl here.

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