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Short-eared Owl
A Reference for North and Central American Owls

 The Short-eared Owl is a medium sized owl that nests on the ground. It can often be seen at dusk flying low off the ground coursing open areas or sitting on a fence post near its roost. Here you will find photos, recordings and a brief field notes section to help identify and enjoy this beautiful owl. A more in depth write up and range map can be found in its natural history page (the Biology link). To jump immediately to any of these sections use the Page Jump Links below.

Page Jump Links:
Photo Gallery
Additional Photos
Audio Recordings
Field Notes
Biology

 

PHOTO GALLERY
Click on the thumbnail to bring up each of the Owl photos.

Short-eared Owl Photo

50K

Short-eared Owl Photo

34K

Short-eared Owl Photo

34K

San Joaquin County,
California
January 2000

San Joaquin County,
California
January 2000
San Joaquin County,
California
January 2000

Short-eared Owl Photo

39K

Short-eared Owl Photo

76K

Short-eared Owl Photo

65K
San Joaquin County,
California
January 2000
Carrizo Plain,
California
January 2000
Carrizo Plain,
California
June 2005

Additional Photos

Photo 1
72K

Photo 2
63K

RECORDINGS
Click on the sonograms to bring up each of the recordings.

Sound File
64K
San Joaquin County,
California
January 2000

Sound File
58K
San Joaquin County,
California
January 2000

This is the males territorial call. It is mostly given in flight, often with the female responding with a bark. This is the most common call (bark) that is given by both the male and female.

FIELD NOTES
Short-eared Owl - Asio flammeus

 The Short-eared Owl is similar in size and appearance to the Long-eared Owl although, as the name suggests, it lacks the long ear tufts. The Short-eared has chest and belly streaking, as opposed to the Long-eared Owl's cross barring, and is generally paler in color overall (also brownish in color rather than grayish) . The dark wrist markings on the upper and lower wings are more apparent in flight than with the Long-eared and the facial disk is whitish rather than rusty. Bill is black to horn-colored, the iris is yellow and the claws are black. The Short-eared Owl is also generally found in more open habitat such as open prairies and marshes. The sexes are alike although the males tend to be paler. These owls are primarily crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk), rather than diurnal, although they are sometimes active in the daytime also (the Long-eared is nocturnal). They usually roost directly on the ground except possibly, in the winter, where there is snow cover. Length is 15" (about the size of a Cooper's Hawk); similar in size with both the Barn and Long-eared Owls. Winter roosts can consist of as many as 100-200 birds.

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