The Long-eared owl (Asio otus) is named after the long, black ear-tufts, which are feathers found on either side of its head. The long-eared owl is a fairly widespread bird, found throughout Europe, North America and parts of Asia. The two most of distinctive features are its ear-tufts and the reddish/brown disks that are marked around its eyes and are characteristic of this species. The long ear-tufts are mainly used to make the long-eared owl look larger than it really is to other animals when it is perched in the trees. Long-eared owls are nocturnal. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation and open forest, and are ferocious predators, swooping down on their prey and dispatching it by crushing the skull before swallowing the animal whole. They are mostly a solitary species, but in winter are known to roost communally in groups called ‘owl parliaments’ of up to 200.