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Hibou moyen-duc – Asio otus – Long-eared Owl

Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidés
Genus: Asio
Species: otus

Descriptorr : Linnaeus, 1758

Size: 35 to 40 cm
Wingspan: 90 to 100 cm.
Weight: 260 to 435 g
Longevity: 27 ans

The Long-eared Owl is a medium-sized owl (about 40 cm long with a wingspan of around one meter and a weight of 3-400 g). Its cryptically-colored plumage is nearly the same for both males and females, although the males are typically a bit paler than females and there is not a significant size difference between the sexes. The upperparts are a mixture of gray and chestnut with blackish vermiculations and are very well-camouflaged with the trunks and branches of its wooded habitat. The wings and tail, gray and chestnut, are barred with blackish. A row of white spots is visible on each side of the scapulars, which furthers the cryptic effect. The underside is paler, a cream to rusty color, and is strongly striped with blackish fish-bone markings. There is quite a bit of variability in the intensity of the pigmentation and patterns, both inter-individually within a subspecies and among the four currently-recognized subspecies. The wilsonianus of North America are the darkest. The face is remarkable. The round, rusty facial disk is bordered with black and white. In the center is two large white arcs forming a V or X shape from which the blackish beak protrudes, the concave sides bordered in black highlighting the yellow to orange eyes. Above the facial disk are two long tufts of black, white, and rusty feathers forming an ear or horns. This distinctive feature lends the species its English name of Long-eared Owl. These ear-tufts are usually erect and very visible when the bird is perched, but are flattened against the side of the head when the bird takes flight and are not visible.In these circumstances, the Long-eared Owl can be confused with the Marsh Owl, as both have pale undersides of the wings with black wrists. The Marsh Owl is generally paler, particularly in the facial disk, has an unmarked belly and a much smoother flight due to longer wings. When disturbed by daylight, the Long-eared Owl shapes its body, narrowing its facial disk and partially closing the eyes that scan the intruder. The legs are clearly feathered up to the fingers with a velvety cream or reddish plumage. The chick is covered with a light gray down and has a black face.


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