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Bird of the Week: Long-eared Owl

This week’s bird of the week is one of the 8 species of owls that live in Michigan, the Long-eared Owl. This owl is long-winged and slender and is named for the two long ear-tufts on top of its head, which also make this bird look constantly surprised. It’s dark streaked and barred feathers allow this bird to camouflage itself close to the trunk of a tree under dense foliage, where it commonly roosts during the day to rest for a night of hunting. This is a very sociable bird and is known to roost in groups of up to 100 birds and can form colonies with other bird species. The best time to see this nocturnal bird is around sunset, when it is just starting to hunt for small mammals like voles, mice and rabbits. Some more northern populations of the Long-eared Owl migrate each winter in search of food and the more southern populations will not migrate. The fringed edges of its flight feathers allow for nearly silent flight, letting the owl sneak up on its prey in almost complete darkness. This owl is more commonly seen in southeast Michigan during the winter because its typical habitat range extends from the northern US through Canada. This bird is monogamous, which means it will typically pair for life. Like other owl species, the Long-eared Owl does not build its own nest and usually takes over the abandoned stick nest of a crow or hawk. Look for this amazing owl the next time you visit your Metroparks. Happy birding! Listen to the Long-eared Owl’s call here.

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