Long-eared Owls breed in North America from Canada to Mexico, across Europe (except the far north) and central Asia to Japan, and locally in northwest and sub-Saharan Africa. The northernmost breeders are migratory, wintering in or beyond the south of the species' summer range.
    In Great Britain, Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded the species present in the breeding season in 18% of tetrads (a reduction of nearly a fifth since  the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas), mostly in eastern and northern England and the lowland areas of Scotland.
    In Wiltshire Long-eared Owls were scarce breeders in the first half of the 19th century but later in the century their numbers increased, possibly as a result of human persecution of Tawny Owls (their main competitors) and also because of the maturing of plantations that provided suitable nesting habitat. Then in the 20th century numbers decreased again. Birds of Wiltshire recorded them present in twelve 10km squares, with breeding in seven of them. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded them in nine 10km squares, with breeding confirmed in only one.

The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.