Nature Journal
with Photos

Short-eared Owl Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- 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

Similar species
Often easily identified by behavior alone, the Short-eared is most readily confused with the Long-eared Owl. In flight, both species share similar underwing coloration, and often a good view of a sitting bird is needed to discern the many obvious differences such as the Long-eared Owl's ear tufts, red facial disks, barred underparts, and lack of tawny coloration.

Potentially confused with the Barred Owl, but easily distinguished by eye and bill color, face and underpart patterning. Barn Owl occupies similar habitat but is much paler and lacks streaking on the underparts.
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