Long-eared owl in the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands of the Czech Republic
© Ondrej Prosicky/Alam
Widespread and long-eared. Long-eared owl, Czech Republic
Whooo is that up in that tree? Why, it’s a typical long-eared owl, sometimes called the lesser horned owl or cat owl. It’s one of the most numerous owl species in the world with an estimated population between 2 million and 5.5 million across the Northern Hemisphere. Our featured friend today was found in the Czech Republic, but they’ll adapt to several kinds of habitats, including those near the Arctic. The name is a little misleading as those aren’t actually ears sticking up on its head, they’re tufts of feathers.
Long-eared owls are unusually social, as far as owls go. They’ll often roost together in large groups - anywhere from 20 to 100 of them may hunker down together for the winter. You might think it would be easy to spot such a large group, but they hide in thick cover where their feathers blend in with the branches and leaves. Early spring, before the leaves have fully returned, is the most likely time you’d catch a glimpse of a ‘parliament,’ or group, of long-eared owls.