A large owl, hard to mistake. Tufts appear to sit wide on the head. Eyes yellow, bill black, throat white. Facial disk variable in color, but usually dark rust to brown. Ventrally, heavy dark brown horizontal barring from the chest to the lower abdomen. Dorsally, the same colors exist as ventrally; however, there is more mottling. Because of its wide distribution and adaptability to any habitat, plumage color varies greatly, depending on location. SIZE: 20 to 25 inches. WEIGHT: 46 to 61 ounces (three to four pounds). VOICE: A booming, "Whoo, whoo, whoo whooo, whooo-whooo
" loud and unmistakable.
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Long-eared Owls are smaller and slimmer, with tufts set closer to the middle of the head; the throat is dark.
Western Hemisphere Range
Resident year-round; however, birds living in the northern part of the species' range may migrate south. Some fall and winter migration into and through Montana occurs from birds farther north.
Occurs from river bottoms to timberline throughout the state.
Capable of eating small to medium-sized mammals and birds. Probably takes an occasional Canada Goose or Wild Turkey. Snowshoe hares and skunks are generally the largest mammals taken.
Begins nesting in February. Nests in stick nests made by other birds, broken-topped snags, hollow trees, and cliff cavities. Clutch size two to four. Incubation 30 to 35 days. Young fledge at approximately 45 to 55 days. Nests with eggs have been reported between mid-March and mid-April.