Posted by: atowhee | February 23, 2021


At Ankeny Wildlife Refuge I saw four Long-eared Owls today. They were taking their daily rest in a thicket of trees along the Rail Trail boardwalk. Today they were south of the boardwalk about ten yards at a spot about twenty yards west of the birding blind on that boardwalk. I wasn’t the only happy birder taking pictures. One birder who was there before me and staying around said he had counted five LEOs. While I watched one awoke enough to begin preening himself.

Sibley’s bird guide calls the species “rare” though it is widely ranging across North America. EBird records for this part of the Willamette Valley are sparse. Birds were noted at Baskett Slough in 1994 and 1998. Sightings have been reported at E. E.Wilson Wildlife Area for 1989, 1994-5-6. One LEO was sighted at a home in Polk County in 2011. Aumsville Ponds County Park had a lone bird sighted once in 2016. There are zero reports for the entire Portland Metro area in eBird. And this is the just the second time LEOs have been reported for Ankeny–first sightings posted on Feb. 10. There was a lone sighting in December, 2019. The Long-eared Owls do breed in some parts of eastern Oregon, including Harney County.

Here is what Birds of the World online says about the LEO population (found across the Northern Hemisphere):”Relatively common in w. U.S., but numbers fluctuate from year to year. No estimate of numbers in North America. As of 2004, population estimates for Europe by BirdLife International totaled 380,000–810,000 pairs, including 150,000–350,000 pairs in Russia, 70,000–120,000 in Romania, 33,000–47,000 in Ukraine, 25,000–40,000 in Germany, 10,000–30,000 in France, 8,000–25,000 in Poland, and 12,000–20,000 in Belarus. Fairly common in China. Numbers appear to fluctuate with rodent populations. Other, older estimates of population numbers from Europe from Cramp (Cramp 1985a), with highest estimates from United Kingdom (3,000–10,000 pairs), Netherlands (5,000–7,000), and Sweden (10,000).”

Winter roosts of up to one hundred have been found, but numbers usually run from two to twenty.

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