US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published in THE PRAIRIE NATURALIST 36(4): December 2004 Published by the North Dakota Natural Science Society.


The long-eared owl (Asio otus) is a secretive, poorly understood species in the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. In North Dakota the long-eared owl has been considered a species of special concern (Petersen 1991), due mainly to lack of information on its occurrence and nesting status. We discovered 39 long-eared owl nests while searching for Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) nests in northwestern and north central North Dakota during April and May 2000. Long-eared owl nests mainly were observed at J. Clark Salyer and Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) in the Souris River basin (for study area descriptions see Nenneman et al. 2002) and at Lostwood NWR on the Missouri Coteau landform (Murphy 1993). These 39 nests exceed the total of all state breeding records for the long-eared owl through the early 1970's (Stewart 1975: 159). During 1994 to 1999 we annually found 2 to 12 long-eared owl nests while searching for Cooper's hawk nests in approximately the same area of North Dakota.