Long Eared Owl (Strix nebulosa)

Long-eared Owl


  • The long-eared owl is a very slender, medium-sized bird about 35 centimetres (14 inches) long.


  • The long-eared owl is aptly named, with long ear tufts that are set close to the middle of the head.
  • The upper portion of the body is dark brown with speckles of white on the back of the head and barred elsewhere with white.
  • The underside is white with dark streaks on the breast and barring on the abdomen.
  • The breeding range extends from the northern tree limit in North America south to California.
  • In Alberta, breeding range occurs in the south and central regions.
  • In most areas, long-eared owls are more abundant than people think, but because they do not flush from their nests and remain quiet and still during the day, they are seldom noticed.
  • The owls spend the winter months in the south, often as far as Mexico.
Natural History


  • Because this bird requires trees for roosting and nesting, it is most common to wooded areas in all natural regions.
  • Long-eared owls hunt both wooded and open country.


  • Small mammals that make up the long-eared owl's diet.

When Active

  • Long-eared owls are nocturnal hunters.
Conservation and Management


The long-eared owl is classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management

  • Like all birds of prey in Alberta, the long-eared owl is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act.
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Updated: Apr 29, 2010