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)

Short-eared Owl
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 the map above, it has been known to breed on the islands off the Massachusetts coast and in northern Maine.

This owl is found year round in northern Vermont and during non-breeding season in the rest of New England.

Short-eared Owl
Range Maps from Cornell

Short-eared Owl breeding, nonbreeding and year-round range

Includes separate map of sightings.

Short-eared Owl
Christmas Bird Count Map

Historical CBC Map from USGS