Scientific name: Asio flammeus
Status: Resident breeding species and winter visitor
Breeding birds: 620 – 2.180 pairs
Conservation status: Amber
Length: 34 – 42 cm
Wingspan: 90 – 105 cm
Weight: 260 – 350 g
Short-eared owls are medium-sized and fairly bulky. They have mottled brown and buff upperparts and pale buff underparts streaked with honey-brown. Their large, broad wings are buff with brown spots and bars. There is a light ochre patch and black patch on their underwings.
Short-eared owls have large, rounded heads with short ear tufts. Their facial discs are pale grey with black surrounding their eyes. Their chins and foreheads are white.
Short-eared owls have black bills, yellow eyes, and white feathered legs and feet.
Females are larger than males and they are browner and more heavily streaked.
Juvenile short-eared owls have darker crowns and rumps, brown facial discs, and buff underparts.
Short-eared owls nest in a scrape in the ground. Females build the nest which is lined with grass and feathers.
Short-eared owls lay 4-10 white eggs which are incubated for 24-29 days mostly by the female. Chicks can leave the nest at around 12 days old and reach sexual maturity at a year.
Short-eared owls are nocturnal hunting at night. They eat mainly small mammals such as voles, mice, squirrels, rats, bats, shrews, and rabbits. They will also catch small birds.
Where to see them
Short-eared owls breed in northern England and Scotland, but are seen more widely in winter. Look for them on coastal marshes and wetlands.
Did you know?
Short-eared owls begin calling while they are still inside the egg. It is a high-pitched sound which becomes lower in pitch at around 7 days old.