A slender, medium-sized owl with long, narrow, rounded wings balanced by a long tail. The feathering of the upper body is a mottled [Courtesy of Barbara Gleason] dark brown, gray, and buff; the underside is whitish to tan with dark brown streaks and bars. Conspicuous "ear" tufts on a large, round head resemble the features of the Great Horned Owl, but the Long-eared Owl's ear tufts are located higher on the head. Sexes have similar plumage, but females have a darker brown and deeper tan coloring. Yellow eyes with white "eyebrows" and a black bill underlined with white stand out in a facial disc of rusty tan feathers. This facial disc is a feature common to many owl species that rely on hearing to hunt, and helps direct sound to the ear. The bend of the wing shows a tan patch above, and a dark patch on the under wing which is visible in flight. This owl flies with flattened ear tufts, in a buoyant and irregular pattern. Camouflage is used for daytime protection by raising the ear tufts and stretching into a defensive posture, allowing the owl's shape and feathering to blend into a background of tree limbs. As with most raptors, females are larger than males, and this species is smaller than its cousin the Short-eared Owl.
Meet our resident Long-eared Owls: