Comparatively little is known about the mysterious Long Eared Owl which keeps to the cover of trees during the day and flies only by night. Numbers appeared to have declined over the last century with no recovery in sight although its deep nocturnal habits mean that it could well be under-recorded. It is the least known of all of Britain’s native owls.
This owl’s most prominent feature, other than its fierce orange eyes, is the pronounced “ear tufts” from which it derives its name. In all “tufted” owl species, such as the Eagle Owl family, these tufts have nothing to do with hearing but are manoeuvred by the owl to reflect a mood or to aid with camouflage. The facial disc channels sound too complex and asymmetric ear openings, which in this owl, run nearly the full height of its skull. The largest ears of any owl species..! The muscles required to alter the position of the ear tufts are also thought to play a part in changing the shape of the ear openings so, therefore, do play some part in the hearing. With this remarkable hearing, the Long-Eared Owl is able to detect, locate and strike at prey with total accuracy, even in complete darkness. Although little is known about this owl in Britain, in a Italy the Long-Eared is known as the “Common Owl” as they can be found roosting together in trees in the city centres in their hundreds during the winter months…..!