We compared diets of little owls (Athene noctua) and long-eared owls (Asio otus) in the Minqin Desert in northwestern China. Based on prey numbers, little owls fed mainly on mammals (51.0%) and beetles (46.9%), whereas long-eared owl fed almost exclusively on mammals (96.4%). Based on biomass, both species fed mainly on mammals. Mus musculus, Cricetulus barabensis and Meriones meridianus were the three most common mammals taken by both species. Seasonal variation was found in the diets of both species. Food niche breadth was 3.4 for little owls vs 2.9 for long-eared owls. Dietary overlap between the two species was 49.6%, but varied from 4.0% in April to 96% in January. Dietary overlap of mammals was 97.9%, indicating that both owls fed on similar rodent assemblages. Mean mass of prey was 25.8 ± 22.7 g for long-eared owls and 15.5 ± 22.7 g for little owls. The mean length of tibias of mammals in pellets also indicted that, on average, long-eared owls (18.1 ± 5.6 mm) took larger prey than little owls (16.2 ± 4.7 mm).
Regurgitated pellets (n = 584) of Long-eared Owl (Asio otus) were collected for three seasons from Gansu Endangered Animal Research Center, Gansu Province, China. From these pellets, a total of 1011 individual prey items – representing seven species of rodents and two undetermined species of birds and one undetermined sorex-species – were identified. Long-eared Owls depend mainly on small mammals both based on prey numbers (95.5%) and prey biomass (97.0%). The composition of the diet of Long-eared Owls varied significantly among seasons by frequency and by biomass. The individual species groups indicated significant variation among seasons for Mus musculus, Meriones meridianus, Cricetulus barabensis, Phodopus roborovskii, Dipus sagitta and Rattus norvegicus by biomass. And the difference of seasonal variation of prey items were significant but not for Mus musculus by frequency. Based on prey numbers, Mus musculus was the main food item (50.5%) in its diet; this species was most common in autumn (56.9%) and least common during spring (36.7%). Main prey species, based on prey biomass, was Rattus norvrgicus which comprised 27.5% of total biomass from our pellet samples. The mean length of tibias of mammals in pellets of Long-eared Owls was 18.6 ± 5.4 mm. Long-eared Owls utilize a wide range of prey items in respect to their habitats. Results suggest that Long-eared Owls are selective predators at some levels.