Medium-sized, rather slender owl with long "ear" tufts. Extensive range across Northern Hemisphere. North American birds are rather dark and coarsely marked, with pumpkin-colored face patches and yellow eyes. Eurasian populations are paler overall, especially on the face, and have reddish eyes. Strictly nocturnal; rarely seen foraging at dusk and dawn. Found in areas with a mix of dense cover for roosting, such as brushy thickets or conifer groves, and open spaces for hunting. Generally uncommon to rare and seldom-seen, but can gather in communal winter roosts with dozens of individuals (if you're lucky enough to find a roost, do not disturb the birds). Compare with Short-eared Owl. Typical vocalization is a single low “woop” repeated every few seconds; also gives a wide range of maniacal catlike screeches and doglike barks.
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