Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus




Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White, nest stained

Number of Eggs:

3 - 11

Incubation Days:

25 - 29

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

In shallow depression, lined with feathers and grass.





Short-eared Owl: Medium-sized owl with light and dark brown mottled upperparts and dark-streaked, pale buff underparts; head has large, round, pale buff facial disk with fine, brown tinges, black around eyes, and small ear tufts. Eyes are yellow and bill is black. Sexes are similar. Diet consists primarily of small rodents with occasional small birds or large insects. Flight is buoyant and moth-like with slow wingbeats.

Range and Habitat

Short-eared Owl: Occurs on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. In North America breeds from Alaska and Canada south to Nevada and Nebraska. Winters across much of the U.S. south to Mexico. Prefers open spaces such as grasslands, prairies, agricultural fields, salt marshes, estuaries, mountain meadows, and tundra.

Breeding and Nesting

Short-eared Owl: Lays three to eleven white eggs in a ground nest lined with grass and downy feathers; nest is usually built on a slight ridge or mound with enough vegetation for concealment. Female incubates eggs for 25 to 29 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Short-eared Owl: Eats voles, mice, shrews, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, pocket mice, moles, rats, small rabbits, and muskrats; also takes small birds and large insects; forages mostly at night.


Short-eared Owl: Male’s territorial song is a pulsing "voo-hoo-hoo", resembling an old steam engine, given mainly during flight displays; female responds with a barking "kee-ow." When excited near the nest, both sexes squawk, bark, hiss, and squeal.

Similar Species

Short-eared Owl: Barred and Spotted Owls have horizontal breast markings, yellow eyes, and yellow bills.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X