Long-eared owls (Asio otus) are common avian predators in Turkey. Their diet consists primarily of small mammals, but they also feed on bats, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish. Limited research has been conducted on long-eared owl diets and pellet characteristics in Turkey, yet this knowledge would improve our understanding of their ecological role in the environment. We investigated prey items in pellets at winter sites of Asio otus in Edirne, Kirklareli, Tekirdag, and Istanbul. We collected 2143 pellets from winter sites and counted 3458 prey items. We identified 30 taxa including 16 mammals, 12 birds and 2 insects. Asio otus primarily consumed small mammal species (97.9%) which consisted mainly of rodents (89.6%, including Cricetidae 45.95%, Muridae 43.7%), Eulipotyphla (1.2%), and unidentified mammals (7.1%). A small proportion of birds (1.9%) and insects (0.2%) also were consumed. Asio otus inhabited small coniferous woodlands at edge of farmlands during winter, but their diet varied with location. Muridae were primarily consumed in Istanbul and Tekirdag, whereas Cricetidae were mostly consumed in Kırklareli and Edirne. Our study shows that Asio otus feeding habits shift depending on prey abundance and that they are not specialists for Microtus species only.
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Vol. 68 • No. 3