Eared owls are known for the ear-like tufts sticking up from their head. These tufts are simply feathers and have no connection with hearing. Eared owls are very widespread, although there are only half a dozen species in the genus. Most of them are ground nesters, though the long-eared owl nests in trees. On rare occasions, short-eared owl will do this too.
Scientific name: Asio
The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
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Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Asio is a genus of typical owls, or true owls, in the Strigidae family. The genus Asio contains the eared owls, which are characterised by feather tufts on the head which give the appearance of "ears". This group has representatives over most of the planet, and the Short-eared Owl is one of the most widespread of all bird species, breeding in Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Caribbean, Hawaii and the Galápagos Islands. Its geographic range extends to all continents except Antarctica and Australia.
These are medium-sized owls, 30–46 cm (12–18 in) in length with 80–103 cm (31.5–40 in) wingspans. They are long winged and have the characteristic facial disc.
The two northern species are partially migratory, moving south in winter from the northern parts of their range, or wandering nomadically in poor vole years in search of better food supplies. Tropical Asio owls are largely sedentary.
Asio owls are mainly nocturnal, but Short-eared Owls are also crepuscular. Most species nest on the ground, but the Long-eared Owl, Asio otus, nests in the old stick nests of crows, ravens and magpies (family Corvidae) and various hawks.
These owls hunt over open fields or grasslands, taking mainly rodents, other small mammals and some birds.
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