Short-eared owl

Species profile

Name: the short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) is a widespread species of ‘eared owl’. Owls in this genus have tufts of feathers that look like ears. Short-eared owls have short tufts which are hard to see, although they sometimes display them when defending their territory.

Appearance: short-eared owls have big heads with large yellow eyes ringed with black circles, making them look like they are wearing mascara! They have broad wings and their feathers are usually a mottled brown.

Size: they are medium-sized owls measuring around 40 cm in length, with a wingspan of 110 cm, and weighing up to 475 g.

Diet: short-eared owls mainly hunt rodents, particularly voles. They also catch other small mammals and occasionally other birds and insects.

Did you know: unusually for owls which are mostly nocturnal, short-ears can often be seen looking for food in the early morning or late day. This daylight hunting seems to coincide with the times that voles – their favourite prey – are at their busiest. They flow low to the ground over open fields and grasslands, swooping down on their prey with their talons outstretched. They are often said to appear moth or bat-like when flying due to their floppy, irregular wingbeats!

Location: short-eared owls are found in grasslands across all continents except for  Antarctica and Australia, making them one of the most widespread of any birds.

Where to see short-eared owls

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see short-eared owls in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Dee Estuary
Isle of Sheppey
very low

Photo credit: adriankirby under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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