Long-eared owls roosted in the forest, still hunted in open land

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Abstract

Long-eared owls’ winter roosts located within forest, compared to their winter roosts in human settlements, often escape human attention. Only minimum information has been published about winter roosts located deep in the forest. During the years 2005 to 2016, we collected long-eared owl pellets at irregularly occupied forest winter roosts. Compared to the diet at winter roosts in human settlements, the long-eared owls roosting in the forest surprisingly significantly more frequently hunted the common vole. Moreover, we did not record higher consumption of forest mammal species in the diet of owls at forest winter roosts. Long-eared owls roosting in human settlements hunted significantly more birds. The results show that, despite the location of deep forest winter roosts, long-eared owls preferred hunting the common vole, i.e. hunting in open agricultural land. The study also points out the lack of knowledge about winter roosts located deep in the forest.

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