A Short-eared Owl is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Short-eared Owls. We have also put together a list of fun Short-eared Owl t-shirts, Short-eared Owl bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.
About Short-eared Owls
These are middle-sized typical owls that are named so because of the tufts of feathers at the top of their heads that resemble mammalian ears. These may or may not be visible, and vary in size from owl to owl.
Description and Identification
These medium-sized owls are around 13 – 17 inches long with rounded heads and short
tails. Despite their names, the small tufts of feathers that resemble human ears are so short
that they are almost invisible. Their wings are broad with rounded tips and can span between
33 – 40 inches. Their underwings have dark comma-shaped marks and the upper wing can
show pale patches. The bodies are brown spotted with buff and white underparts while the
face is pale with yellow eyes and black accents. Their breasts are heavily streaked with
brown with pale or buffy chests and bellies.
Short-eared Owl Size
Both the males and females are almost similar in size, with the female being slightly larger than the male.
- Weight: 206 to 475 g
- Length: 34 to 43 cm
- Wingspan: 85 to 110 cm
Short-eared Owl Appearance
The short-eared owls have tawny brown plumage, with big eyes on its large head, broad wings, and a short neck. It has a barred tail and wings and its chest is spotted. It has yellow-orange eyes that are surrounded by black rings. It also has white plumage on its face that makes its eyes stand out.
It flies with irregular wingbeats and as a result, its flight appears to be floppy.
Short-eared Owl Feeding
These owls primarily thrive on small birds and mammals. While their diet mainly consists of
rodents like voles, rats, and mice, they also eat shrews, lemmings, pocket gophers, bats,
weasels, and muskrats. More often than not, these birds follow dense populations of these
small animals and make their migratory patterns accordingly. They also consume small birds
like songbirds, shorebirds, terns, gulls, and rails.
It is a nocturnal bird of prey that mostly hunts at night. However, its preferred prey is voles, and its hunting activities sometimes coincide with the voles’ activity, making the owl hunt even during the daytime. It also eats other small mammals such as squirrels, rats, moles, and even bats.
It hunts by flying low above the ground and swooping down on its prey with its talons.
Short-eared Owl Habitat
Short-eared Owls are the most prevalent in open areas with low vegetation during breeding
as well as during winters. These areas include prairies, coastal grasslands, heathlands,
meadows, shrub-steppes, savannas, the tundra regions, marshes, sand dunes, and
agricultural areas. Weedy fields, gravel pits, and rock quarries are also areas that these owls
gravitate towards. If there are plentiful food sources in their wintering grounds, those regions
can become their breeding grounds as well.
They mainly live in desert or grassland regions in Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Hawaii. They also live in areas with high rodent populations and migrate southwards during winter.
Range and Migration
Short-eared Owls are a species of birds that are found abundantly in grasslands and open
lands primarily across the Americas and Eurasia. They are one of the most widespread bird
species in the world, with flocks passing through every continent except Antarctica and
Australia. These birds are extremely migratory and are considered to be partially nomadic by
some ornithologists, as they travel to areas with high rodent populations apart from their
regular breeding migrations. In North America, their populations are dispersed across
Canada and the northern United States, with most migrating towards Mexico and the Caribbean
during the winter. A significant population along central and north United States does not
migrate for the winter but continues to relocate in search of new rodent populations. These
birds can travel over open seas and are known to rest on ships hundreds of miles away from
Short-eared Owl Life and Behavior
The owls are monogamous and have only one mate throughout their lives. They attain sexual maturity at one year. During courtship, they gather in flocks and the males make spectacles of themselves as they fly to attract females.
The females lay 4 to 7 white eggs every mating season. They build nests that are concealed by low vegetation. Both males and females participate in the bringing up of juveniles.
Short-eared Owl Nesting
Unlike many other owls, short-eared owl females construct their own nests. This is an
interesting detail as these owls are generally monogamous with their mates. They find spots
on open areas with sufficient vegetation for hiding from predators and begin scraping holes
out of the ground in the shape of a cup. These cups are then lined with leaves, down
feathers, and grass to thoroughly insulate the nest. It is important for these nests to be well
protected as a single brood can witness 1 – 11 eggs within a clutch during the breeding
season. The incubation period for these owls also tends to be on the longer sides, with it
ranging from 21 – 37 days.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Short-eared Owls
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Short-eared Owls are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Short-eared Owl T-shirts
If you love the Short-eared Owl you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Short-eared Owl Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Short-eared Owl is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Short-eared Owl Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Short-eared Owl. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Short-eared Owl
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Short-eared Owl
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.