Saturday 24th June 2017
Species Guide
Short-Eared Owl - Asio flammeus


The Short-Eared Owl found in North and South America and many of the small islands off the coasts. It is also found in Europe, Asia and north China.

The female lays from 7 to 10 eggs in April/May. Incubation is 24 to 28 days and the young leave the nest before they can fly, at two weeks old, and hide among the grasses, they fledge after 24 to 27 days.

The Short-Eared Owl so named because of the small ear tufts on it's head, is a very striking Owl with eyes the colour of lemon and a large facial disk. These Owls hunt during the day and can be seen sitting on fence posts. They are a stocky bird and larger than the Long-Eared Owl.

The Short-Eared Owl hunts by quartering the ground, flying slowly and low to the ground very similar to the Barn Owl, they will also sit very patiently waiting for prey.

Their prey consists mainly of mice, voles, shrews and some small birds. This Owl will also roost in large numbers if prey is abundant. They are ground nesting birds which can make them quite vulnerable to predators. The Short-Eared Owls preferred habitat is wet pasture, dunes and moorland with heather. The nest consists of a shallow scrape sometimes lined with twigs and grass, very few Owls make any sort of nest at all. If the female and her young are threatened the male Owl will draw the predator away by dragging his wing and pretending to be injured. They have also been known to fly at peoples heads if they approach to near to their nest site.

During the breeding season the male Short-Eared Owl will fly over his territory calling with a deep booming series of hoots; this is often accompanied by a rapid clapping of the wings whilst the wings are held under the body.

There are approximately 1,500 breeding pairs of Short-Eared Owls in Britain. This number is boosted during October and May by Short-Eared Owls that come here from Europe to spend the winter.

Search Species Guide