Short-eared Owl is an owl of open terrain such as prairies and farmland, and is
also often active during daylight, making it a more observable owl than most.
They often be seen in low flight over fields and grasslands as they search for
prey. Other than North America, nesting populations can also be found in
Eurasia, South America, and even many oceanic islands such as Hawaii.
Habitat: Can be found in a variety of open
habitats, dependent upon the availability of small rodents. This may
include prairies, large marshes, farmland, shrubby fields, and even tundra.
Diet: Primarily feeds on small rodents, up
to the size of rabbits and muskrats. Will also feed on small birds if available.
Behavior: They hunt by flying low over fields,
hovering and then dropping on their prey upon locating it. Much of the
hunting is done by sound alone, but they are also capable of hunting by
sight. They are most active at dawn and dusk, but do hunt during the
daytime as well. Multiple Short-eared Owls are often found utilizing
the same fields for hunting, offering the birder the opportunity to see
several in a relatively small area.
Nesting: May through June
Song: Generally quiet, but sometimes gives a loud
sharp barking call
Migration: Some birds throughout the northern half of the U.S.
are year-round residents. However, those summering in Canada are strongly
migratory, and other populations may be nomadic, depending upon populations of
Conservation Status: Has disappeared from many former nesting
areas in the southern part of its range, probably due to habitat loss.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Short-eared Owl
-- Short-eared Owl
Photo Information: July 16th, 2004 -- Richland
Wildlife Area -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Short-eared Owl photos.