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The Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a species of typical owl which belongs to the family Strigidae. It has an extensive range across most regions of North America, Europe and Asia. The bird has a unique appearance with its short feathered ears and distinctive yellow eyes. Its diet primarily consists of small mammals such as voles and mice, supplemented by insects depending on seasonality and availability.

Short-eared owls are diurnal birds, meaning they are active during the day time unlike other nocturnal owls. They often hunt in open areas like fields or meadows using their excellent hearing abilities to detect prey from afar. During winter months this species migrates southwards in search for food sources and suitable habitats for breeding purposes.

In terms of conservation status, the Short-Eared Owl is listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List due to being widespread throughout large parts of its range.

However, it faces threats both directly via human activities such as habitat destruction, disturbance or hunting; but also indirectly due to changes in climate impacting their feeding habits and potential nesting sites. In this article we will discuss these topics further while exploring current conservation efforts surrounding this fascinating raptor species.

Short eared owl

Overview Of Species

The short-eared owl is a species of bird within the Strigidae family. It has a wide range across North America, Eurasia and parts of Asia, with its breeding areas in temperate and subarctic regions. Generally, it is migratory but some populations remain sedentary year-round. This species is typically nocturnal; however, it can occasionally be seen during daylight hours when food resources are abundant or if disturbed from potential nesting sites.

In terms of physical characteristics, the short-eared owl is medium to large in size and its plumage coloration is generally buffy brown with streaks on the chest area. The eyes are yellow while the bill is blackish which contrasts against the facial disc that may appear whitish or pale tawny depending upon region and individual variation.

Its distinctive long wings help distinguish it from other owls as they reach approximately 1 meter in length when fully extended. Furthermore, there are distinct ear tufts present along with prominent white spots located at wingtips during flight displays or while hunting prey items such as small rodents.

Overall, this species has adapted well to various habitats including grasslands and marshes where their diet consists primarily of small mammals like voles and lemmings, although smaller birds have also been recorded as part of their dietary intake.

In addition to predation activities for nutrition needs, these owls will often use strategic perching behaviors near burrows to wait for potential meals before taking off into flight again after successful capture attempts.

Distribution And Habitat

The short-eared owl is a medium sized, nocturnal raptor that has an expansive geographic range. Its native habitat spans across the Northern Hemisphere, from North America to Asia and Europe.

This species of owl typically inhabits open grasslands and prairies with low vegetation cover. It prefers marshland environments and tundra sites in which it can hunt its primary prey items: small mammals such as voles, mice, lemmings, shrews and other rodents. Additionally, some specimens may be found on agricultural fields or near coastal areas during migration periods.

Short-eared owls are migratory birds that travel extensively throughout their range. They breed mainly in northern regions during the summer months before migrating south for wintering grounds along coasts and wetlands over long distances.

Breeding sites include subarctic locations like Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and Russia where they establish nesting territories. Here are five key points about this species’ distribution and habitat:

  • The short-eared owl has an extensive geographic range spanning across the Northern hemisphere from North America to Europe and Asia
  • This species tends to inhabit open grasslands, marshes and tundra environments
  • Short-eared owls have been documented hunting small mammals such as voles, mice and lemmings
  • These birds are migratory; breeding in northern regions in the summer before moving southwards for wintering grounds
  • Breeding sites tend to be located in subarctic habitats like Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia or Russia

Due to its wide geographical range coupled with its nomadic behavior patterns across multiple types of habitats within that area – particularly those involving wetland ecosystems – conservation efforts must focus on maintaining suitable conditions at possible stopover points along known migratory paths year round.

Physical Characteristics

The short-eared owl has a wingspan of 32 to 40 inches and is typically 15.7 to 19.6 inches in length. The most distinguishing physical characteristics are its ear tufts, which can give the appearance of horns or ears on either side of the head when raised. Its facial disc is paler than other owls’, surrounded by dark streaks that form concentric circles around it.

The upperparts are tan with white spots and barred feathers, while the underparts are whitish with heavy brown streaking. These birds have yellow eyes, long legs, and their toes are covered in bristles for better grip on prey. They also have sharp talons used for hunting small mammals like meadow voles or shrews as well as insects such as grasshoppers or beetles.

Their flight pattern is distinctive; they fly low over open fields and marshes where they hunt during twilight hours in search of food before roosting at night. Short-eared owls generally live alone except when breeding, but may form loose flocks outside of mating season. During migration, large groups can be seen moving southward towards warmer climates in winter months.

Behavior And Diet

The short-eared owl is a nocturnal species of owl with characteristic ear tufts. It generally hunts in open areas such as grasslands, marshes, and agricultural fields during the night or early morning hours. During the day it roosts on the ground, blending into its environment with its camouflaged feathers.

Short-eared owls feed primarily on small mammals like voles and mice; however they will also consume beetles, moths and other insects. The hunting technique of this species involves an aerial pursuit from above after which the prey is snatched up directly with their talons. Hunting usually occurs near dawn and dusk when visibility is low for both predator and prey alike.

In addition to having seasonal migratory patterns that are dependent upon food availability, these birds have several interesting characteristics related to habitat selection including a preference for nesting sites located far away from human activity. Furthermore, short-eared owls often nest colonially in meadows or wetlands where there is plenty of vegetation cover for protection from predators.

Overall, this species has adapted well to various landscapes because of their wide range of dietary needs and generalist hunting behaviors that allow them to survive in many habitats regardless of seasonality or migration patterns.

Short eared owl

Reproduction And Offspring

The Short-eared Owl is a migratory species of bird that breeds in the Northern Hemisphere. It mates during the months of March and April, usually selecting open grasslands or marshes as nesting sites. The male owl will perform an aerial courtship display to attract potential mates. He may circle high above the female with wings spread wide before slowly descending in a series of loops, dives, and swoops until landing near her on the ground.

The nest is usually located on the ground but can also be found within low vegetation such as shrubs. A shallow depression lined with feathers and leaves is made by both parents for their clutch of 3–8 eggs. Incubation typically lasts between 25-28 days and is done solely by the female while the male provides food for her during this time. Once hatched, it takes another 4–5 weeks for the fledglings to learn how to fly and become independent from their parents.

Short-eared Owls are capable of breeding twice per season if conditions are suitable; however, they rarely manage more than one successful brood per year due to competition amongst adults for territories, predation by other animals, and general mortality rates among young owls.

Conservation Status

The Short-eared Owl is an endangered species due to the loss of habitat and a decrease in population. Conservation efforts are essential for this species, as without them it may become extinct in the future.

Habitat destruction from human activities has been one of the leading causes of the decline of Short-eared Owls. Deforestation, urban development, and agricultural expansion have all had negative impacts on the habitats these birds require for nesting and roosting. Protected areas need to be established and maintained so that there will be sufficient space for these owls to survive and reproduce over time.

Conservation strategies also include monitoring populations through surveys, as well as protecting important breeding sites by establishing buffer zones around certain areas where they can nest safely. In addition, engaging local communities through education initiatives about conservation could help raise awareness and encourage action towards preserving their natural habitats.

Efforts such as these must remain ongoing if we are to ensure a viable future for the Short-eared Owl population throughout its range countries

Interaction With Humans

The interaction between humans and short-eared owls has been observed for many centuries. As a species, the owl is known to inhabit areas that are close to human activity such as agricultural lands and grasslands. In some cases, this co-existence can lead to conflict due to the preference of similar resources by both parties.

For example, when it comes to food sources, they might compete with each other which could affect the reproductive success of either group in certain areas.

However, there have also been studies suggesting that short-eared owls do benefit from the presence of humans in their habitat. This includes having access to different types of prey or even nesting sites not available otherwise. Additionally, research shows that these birds may be able to adjust their behavior accordingly if needed depending on how much human interference there is in an area.

Overall, while conflicts between humans and short-eared owls are possible under certain circumstances, further study into their relationships reveals potential benefits for both sides. It is clear then that understanding these interactions better will help inform strategies aimed at promoting successful co-existence between them moving forward.


The short-eared owl is a species of interest to wildlife biologists and ornithologists due its unique physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat. The birds are found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, although their populations vary depending on the region.

While they prefer open grasslands for nesting sites and hunting grounds, they can also be seen inhabiting marshes or other wetlands with an abundance of rodents. Physically, they have long wingspans and yellow eyes that aid them in spotting prey from afar; their diet mainly consists of small mammals such as voles and mice.

Breeding season occurs between March and May when pairs will mate before laying eggs in nests located at ground level. Offspring are cared for by both parents until they reach maturity. Conservation status varies across regions but is generally listed as “Least Concern” according to the IUCN Red List.

In some areas where there has been a decline in population numbers due to human activities such as farming or development projects, conservation efforts are being put into place to increase awareness about preserving these owls’ habitats.

Despite having no known direct relationship with humans outside of those related to conservation efforts, the short-eared owl continues to captivate people’s curiosity through its distinct appearance and habits.