Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl
(Asio flammeus)

Order:  Strigiformes
Family:  Strigidae

Photo by K. Viste-Sparkman/USFWS

Short-eared Owl Information

Length:  13 - 17"

Habitat:  In the Northeast, freshwater and saltwater marshes, open fields, wet meadows, farmland, clear-cuts, dunes.

Diet:  Mainly small mammals such as voles, lemmings, and mice. Also rabbits, small birds, large insects, and occasionally bats.

  Calls and sounds of the Short-eared Owl

Additional Information

Short-eared Owl
Description, habitat, behavior, diet, and nesting. Includes photos and range map. (From BirdWeb)

Short-eared Owl
Photo of this owl (from Mike Danzenbaker's Bird Photography)

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

© David Blevins

Short-eared Owl
Identification Tips

  • Wingspan: 41 inches
  • Sexes similar
  • Medium-sized owl
  • Perhaps the most aerial owl, the Short-eared courses low over fields and marshes at dawn and dusk with floppy, moth-like wingbeats
  • Yellow eyes and dark bill
  • Upperparts mottled brown and white, with darker bars on flight feathers
  • Breast tawny with darker streaks fading to a white belly with diffuse darker streaking
  • Face relatively dark and unpatterned
  • In flight, pale underwings with prominent black wrist marks are obvious

(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)

Breeding Bird Survey Map,

Short-eared Owl Breeding Map

(Image credit: USGS)

New England Range

The Short-eared Owl is a very rare breeder in New England. Although not shown on this map, it has been known to breed on the islands off the Massachusetts coast and in far northern Maine.

Winter Map from eBird

Sightings of the Short-eared Owl during Nov-Mar over last 10 years

Christmas Bird Count Map
Historical CBC Map from USGS