The Short-Eared Owl is a medium-sized owl that is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. It is known for its distinctive ‘ear tufts’, which are actually feathers, not ears! This owl species can be found in a variety of habitats, from open grasslands to deserts and tundra. They are most active at dawn and dusk, when they feed on small mammals such as voles, mice and shrews. The Short-Eared Owl has a long history of being used as an icon in literature and art, where it is often portrayed as a wise and mysterious creature.The Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a medium-sized owl native to much of the Northern Hemisphere. It measures about 33 cm in length and has a wingspan of approximately 91 cm. Its plumage is mottled light brown with dark streaks, and it has distinct white patches on the sides of its head. Short-Eared Owls have long legs, small beaks, and large yellow eyes. They have short ear tufts that are barely visible above their head feathers. These owls are nocturnal hunters, flying low to the ground in search of small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews.

Physical Characteristics

The Short-eared owl is a medium-sized owl with a length of 13 to 15 inches and a wingspan of 35 to 40 inches. It has a round head, round eyes, and short ear tufts. Its bill is yellowish-black and its plumage is mottled brown and buff. The Short-eared owl has long legs and feet, which are feathered all the way down to its toes. In flight, its wings appear broad and rounded.

Habitat & Range

The Short-eared owl can be found in open landscapes such as grasslands, marshes, meadows, tundra, and agricultural fields. It is mainly seen in North America during the winter months in the northern portions of Canada and Alaska. During the summer months it can be found further south in parts of Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Patagonia.

Diet & Hunting

The Short-eared owl primarily feeds on small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, moles, rabbits, and occasionally birds like starlings or pigeons. They usually hunt from dusk until dawn by flying low over the ground looking for prey to snag with their talons or dive onto them from a perch. They will also sometimes pounce on prey from the ground or even snatch it up directly from water surfaces!

Nesting & Breeding

Short-eared owls typically nest on the ground among tall grasses or other vegetation in open areas such as meadows or fields. The female will lay between 4 to 8 eggs that are incubated for about 25 days before they hatch. After hatching it takes about 3 weeks until they fledge (leave the nest). The young owls will remain with their parents for several weeks after fledging before dispersing into new territories of their own.

Diet of Short-Eared Owl

The diet of the short-eared owl is quite varied and includes small mammals, such as voles, moles and shrews, as well as larger prey items like rabbits and hares. They also feed on birds, including game birds, waterfowl and shorebirds. They will also take insects like grasshoppers, beetles and cicadas. The short-eared owl’s diet is largely dependent on what food sources are available in its habitat.

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In the summer months they will feed heavily on large insects such as cicadas and grasshoppers, while in the winter they shift their focus to small mammals. The short-eared owl will also catch fish if it can find them near the shoreline or in shallow waters. They are also known to eat carrion when available.

The short-eared owl hunts primarily at night or during early morning hours when its prey is most active. During the day they often roost in dense vegetation or low perches where they can watch for prey without being seen. When hunting, they typically fly low over an area looking for prey or using their acute hearing to detect movement in the undergrowth below them.

When a potential meal is spotted, the short-eared owl will swoop down quickly and snatch it up before flying away with its prize. This type of hunting method is known as “hawking” and it requires a great deal of skill and agility on the part of the owl to be successful.

In addition to hunting for food, short-eared owls will sometimes scavenge carcasses or steal meals from other predators such as hawks or falcons if given an opportunity. This behavior has earned them a reputation as being somewhat opportunistic feeders but it still requires significant skill to be successful at this type of hunting technique.

Distribution and Habitat of Short-Eared Owl

The Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a medium-sized owl found in open areas, such as grasslands and marshes. These owls are migratory birds and can be seen in many parts of North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. They prefer to live in meadows and marshes but can also occupy open fields and grasslands. During the breeding season, they are usually found near wetlands or grasslands where there is an abundance of prey.

Short-Eared Owls are also known to inhabit agricultural areas where they feed on rodents such as voles and mice. They also hunt small birds, frogs, lizards and insects. During the winter months they may move south to find more food sources or warmer climates.

Short-Eared Owls have a wide range of habitats including tundra, prairies, meadows, marshes, open fields and grasslands. They are often seen perched on fence posts or tall vegetation during the day. At night they hunt for food in open areas where there is plenty of prey available.

In North America they breed in northern regions such as Canada and Alaska but can be found as far south as California and Florida during the winter months. In Europe they breed throughout most of Scandinavia but can be found further south during the winter months when food is scarce in northern regions.

Short-Eared Owls have adapted well to human activities such as urbanization and deforestation since they often find abundant prey near these areas. However, their population has declined due to habitat destruction from human activities like farming which has led to a decrease in suitable nesting sites for these owls.

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Conservation efforts need to be made to protect these birds from further decline by maintaining suitable habitats for them to survive in the wild.

Migration Patterns of Short-Eared Owl

Short-eared owls are found in a variety of habitats throughout North America, from the Arctic tundra to the deserts of the southwest. These migratory birds are capable of making long journeys and have been known to travel up to 1,000 miles in a single trip. During the winter months, short-eared owls migrate southwards in order to take advantage of more abundant food sources. In spring and summer, many birds return to their breeding grounds in the north.

The exact migration routes taken by individual short-eared owls depend on a variety of factors such as the bird’s age, sex, health, and even local weather conditions. Some birds may follow a more northern route while others may take a more southerly path. It is also possible for some individuals to remain year-round in one area if food sources are abundant enough.

The timing of migration can also vary depending on the population and location. In general, most migrating birds will leave their breeding grounds between September and October and arrive at their wintering sites between October and November. On their return journey they typically depart between March and April before arriving back at their summer homes sometime between April and May.

Overall, short-eared owls exhibit a wide range of migration patterns that reflect both individual preferences as well as environmental conditions. Tracking the movements of these birds can help scientists better understand how climate change might be impacting global bird populations.

Breeding Habits of Short-Eared Owl

Short-eared owls breed from March through July, though it can vary by region. They typically mate for life and form large nesting colonies in open habitats like grasslands, meadows, and tundra. These owls are known to use the same nesting sites year after year. The female will lay between four and nine eggs which she will incubate for about 28 days. The male will help feed the female during this time by bringing her food.

Once the chicks hatch, both parents will work together to feed them. The chicks fledge within 35-40 days and become independent shortly after that. Short-eared owls breed once a year but may attempt a second clutch if their first is unsuccessful due to predation or other factors. This species is highly territorial and will defend its nesting sites aggressively against other short-eared owls as well as other species of birds.

Predators of the Short-Eared Owl

The short-eared owl is a small to medium-sized bird of prey that is found in a variety of habitats around the world. It is one of the most widespread species of owls and can be found in grasslands, wetlands, deserts, and even urban areas. Despite its wide range and large population size, the short-eared owl is still vulnerable to predation by a variety of animals.

The main predators of the short-eared owl are raptors such as hawks and other owls, as well as foxes, raccoons, weasels, coyotes, and feral cats. Hawks will often hunt the owls when they are perched on a branch or in flight. Foxes have been known to catch the owls when they are roosting on the ground during the night or day. Weasels will also hunt them while they are roosting or nesting.

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Raccoons and feral cats have been known to attack adult owls while they are roosting or nesting. Coyotes have also been known to hunt them when they are foraging for food on open ground during dawn or dusk. The young owlets can also become prey for snakes, skunks, and other small mammals such as shrews or moles when they are still young and unable to fly away from danger quickly enough.

Overall, short-eared owls face many threats from predators that can significantly reduce their population size if not managed properly. It is important that these birds continue to be monitored so that their numbers can remain stable over time and their populations can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Threats to the Short-Eared Owl

The Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a species of owl that is found in many areas of the world. Unfortunately, this species is facing a variety of threats due to human activity. The most common threat to the Short-Eared Owl is habitat destruction and degradation. The owls rely on open grassland habitats for hunting, nesting and roosting, and these habitats are being lost due to agricultural development, urbanization, and other forms of land conversion.

In addition to habitat loss, the Short-Eared Owl also faces threats from climate change. As temperatures increase and weather patterns become more unpredictable, the availability of prey decreases which can lead to food shortages for the owls. Furthermore, rising sea levels can also lead to increased flooding in coastal areas where the owls live, leading to displacement or even death.

The Short-Eared Owls also face threats from invasive species such as cats and rats which prey on their eggs and chicks. In addition, pesticides used in agricultural production can have an impact on owl populations by reducing the amount of available food. Finally, collisions with automobiles can also cause mortality in these birds as they hunt for prey along roadsides and highways.

Overall, there are many threats facing the Short-Eared Owl that need to be addressed if we are to ensure its long term survival in our ecosystems. Conservation efforts such as habitat protection and restoration, monitoring of populations, research into potential management strategies, and public education initiatives can help reduce these threats and ensure this species’ future in our world.


The Short-Eared Owl is a beautiful and mysterious bird. Its unique ability to camouflage itself and its remarkable hunting skills make it an important part of the natural world. These owls are an important part of their ecosystems, providing great ecological benefits. They are especially beneficial to grassland habitats, where they keep populations of small rodents in check. The Short-Eared Owl is also a species of special concern due to its declining population size in some areas. However, with proper conservation efforts, this species can continue to thrive for generations to come.

Overall, the Short-Eared Owl is an impressive animal that has adapted to many different habitats around the world. Its ability to survive and thrive in different environments is a testament to its strength and resilience as a species.

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Sony Kespes


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