In a small side street of the sleepy town of Balmazújváros in eastern Hungary, almost in the city center next to the church, up to 10 Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) have been hiding in large trees for years. A bizarre sight that makes every photographer or birdwatcher’s heart beat faster. Long-eared Owls are not uncommon in almost any countryside in Europe. However, they are difficult to observe outside winter time. They usually sleep during the day and only become active during the pitch-dark night.
The ecological requirements of the Long-eared Owl largely coincide with those of the Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), the Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) and the Carrion Crow (Corvus corone). The two latter are also the most important nest suppliers, as Long-eared Owls themselves do not build nests.
In winter, Long-eared Owls concentrate in the vicinity of particularly nutritious habitats with high vole densities or mass sleeping places of small birds. Some wintering sites have been regularly visited by dozens to more than 100 Long-eared Owls for years, not infrequently also in cemeteries and parks with a good food supply.
What drives this rather large number of long-eared owls to set up quarters exactly here will probably remain their secret. The choice of location does not mean that they have to settle for a lot of traffic noise and a lot of people, but of course one or the other curious person passes by. But people are peaceful and only look up from Continue reading Long-eared Owls in Hungary in winter