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The long-eared owl is a medium-sized owl, smaller in size than a woodpigeon. It often looks long and thin, with head feathers (known as ear tufts, even though they are not ears) which it raises when alarmed. It is buff-brown with darker brown streaks and deep orange eyes.
It breeds thinly across the UK with fewer birds in the south-west and Wales. Northern birds migrate southwards, including birds from Europe coming to spend the winter in the UK, while southern birds are residents and only move short distances to find food.