Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

name = Short-Eared Owl
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1

image_width = 256px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Strigiformes
familia = Strigidae
genus = "Asio"
species = "A. flammeus"
binomial = "Asio flammeus"
binomial_authority = (Pontoppidan, 1763)
synonyms ="Asio accipitrinus"

The Short-eared Owl ("Asio flammeus") is a species of typical owl (family Strigidae). Owls belonging to genus "Asio" are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These "ear" tufts may or may not be visible. "Asio flammeus" will display its tufts when in a defensive pose. However, its very short tufts are usually not visible. The Short-eared Owl is found in open country and grasslands. The word "flammeus" is Latin for "flaming, or the color of fire". []


"Asio flammeus", the Short-eared Owl, is a medium-sized owl averaging 34–43 cm (13 to 17 inches) in length and weighing 206–475 grams (11 to 13 ounces). It has large eyes, big head, short neck, and broad wings. Its bill is short, strong, hooked and black. Its plumage is mottled tawny to brown with a barred tail and wings. The upper breast is significantly streaked (Alsop 2001). Wingspans range from 85 to 103 cm (38 to 44 inches). Females are slightly larger than males. The yellow-orange eyes of "A. flammeus" are exaggerated by black rings encircling each eye, and large, whitish disks of plumage surrounding the eyes like a mask.

Geographic range

The Short-eared Owl occurs on all continents except Antarctica and Australia; thus it has one of the largest distributions of any bird. "A. flammeus" breeds in Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Caribbean, Hawaii and the Galápagos Islands. It is partially migratory, moving south in winter from the northern parts of its range. The Short-eared Owl is known to relocate to areas of higher rodent populations (Ehrlich 1988). It will also wander nomadically in search of better food supplies during years when vole populations are low. See a [ map of the Short-eared Owl's distribution] across the New World.

Conservation status

It is listed as declining in the southern portion of its range. It is listed as of special concern, threatened, or endangered in some states and common in northern portion of breeding range. [ [ All About Birds -] ]

It is listed as endangered in New York state. Its appearance at the Calverton Executive Airpark on Long Island has prompted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to take the lead on ruling whether a massive redevelopment of the airport will receive the necessary environmental permits. [ [ All About Birds -] ]

Nesting and reproduction

The Short-eared Owl nests on the ground in prairie, tundra, savanna, or meadow habitats. Nests are concealed by low vegetation, and may be lightly lined by weeds, grass, or feathers (Ehrlich 1988). Approximately 4 to 7 white eggs are found in a typical clutch, but clutch size can reach up to a dozen eggs in years when voles are abundant. There is one brood per year. The eggs are incubated mostly by the female for 21–37 days. Offspring fledge at a little over four weeks. This owl is known to lure predators away from its nest by appearing to have a crippled wing (Alsop 2001).


Sexual maturity is attained at one year. Breeding season in the northern hemisphere lasts from March to June, peaking in April. During this time these owls may gather in flocks. During breeding season, the males make great spectacles of themselves in flight to attract females. The male swoops down over the nest flapping its wings in a courtship display (Ehrlich 1988). These owls are generally monogamous.

Diet and foraging habits

Hunting occurs mostly at night, but this owl is diurnal and crepuscular as well as nocturnal. It tends to fly only feet above the ground in open fields and grasslands until swooping down upon its prey feet-first (Alsop 2001). Several owls may hunt over the same open area (Kaufman 2000). Its food consists mainly of rodents, especially voles, but it will eat other small mammals and some large insects (Ehrlich 1988). Sometimes it even tends to eat smaller birds. Its flight is characteristically floppy due to its irregular wingbeats. The Short-eared Owl may also be described as "moth or bat-like" in flight. []


Short-eared Owls have a scratchy bark-like call. Raspy "waowk, waowk, waowk" or "toot-toot-toot-toot-toot" sounds are common. A loud "eeee-yerp" is also heard on breeding grounds. However, Short-eared Owls are silent on the wintering grounds (Alsop 2001).
* [ Audio link 1]
* [ Audio link 2]


* Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

External links

* [ Pictures, Calls and Information]
* [ Pictures and Information]
* [ New York State Department of Environmental Conservation]
* [ Short-eared Owl Species Account] - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
* [ Short-eared Owl Information and Photos] - South Dakota Birds and Birding
* [ Short-eared Owl "Asio flammeus"] - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
* [ Short-eared Owl videos] on the Internet Bird Collection
* [ Riverhead, NY "News Review" article about the appearance of short-eared owls at EPCAL]


*Alsop, Fred J. Birds of North America: Eastern Region. DK Publishing, Inc. NY:NY. 2001.
*Ehrlich, Paul R, David S Dobkin and Darryl Wheye. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. Simon & Schuster Inc. NY:NY. 1988.
*Kaufman, Kenn. Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America. Houghton Mifflin Co. NY:NY. 2000.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • short-eared owl — Eared Eared, a. 1. Having (such or so many) ears; used in composition; as, long eared eared; sharp eared; full eared; ten eared. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Having external ears; having tufts of feathers resembling ears. [1913 Webster] {Eared… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • short-eared owl — noun : a medium sized nearly cosmopolitan owl (Asio flammeus) that frequents seacoasts and grassy marshes, commonly nests on the ground, is dark brown above and buff below streaked with brown, and has very short ear tufts * * * /shawrt eard / a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Short-eared Owl — balinė pelėda statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Asio flammeus angl. Short eared Owl vok. Sumpfohreule …   Paukščių anatomijos terminai

  • short-eared owl — balinė pelėda statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Asio flammeus angl. short eared owl vok. Sumpfohreule, f rus. болотная сова, f pranc. hibou des marais, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – ausuotosios pelėdos …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • short-eared owl — /shawrt eard / a streaked, buffy brown, cosmopolitan owl, Asio flammeus, having very short tufts of feathers on each side of the head. Also called prairie owl. [1805 15, Amer.] * * * ▪ bird  (Asio flammeus), stocky bird of prey of the family… …   Universalium

  • short-eared owl — noun Date: 1766 a medium sized nearly cosmopolitan owl (Asio flammeus) that has very short ear tufts and usually nests on the ground …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • short-eared owl — noun A species of owl, Asio flammeus …   Wiktionary

  • short-eared owl — noun a migratory day flying owl that frequents open country. [Asio flammeus.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • Eared owl — Eared Eared, a. 1. Having (such or so many) ears; used in composition; as, long eared eared; sharp eared; full eared; ten eared. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) Having external ears; having tufts of feathers resembling ears. [1913 Webster] {Eared… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Short-eared — may refer to:* Short eared Bat, bat species from South and Central America * Short eared Dog, mammal of South America * Short eared Owl, owl of the open country and grasslands …   Wikipedia