Short-eared Owl

Earliest Date: 29 Sept
Latest Date: 31 Oct
Peak Migration: mid-Oct

“Short-eared” refers to the two tiny feather tufts on its head–a feature almost impossible to see in the wild.

Other names: Bog owl, flat-faced owl, marsh owl, prairie owl

Hunting habits: Feeds on meadow mice and other rodents, but also takes grasshoppers, other insects, and small birds. Especially abundant in Alaska when lemming numbers are high. These owls hunt over prairies, marshes, and fields where mice are abundant; sometimes hunt in the afternoon.

Nesting habits: Nests on the ground in a depression. The nest is sparsely lines with grasses and weed stalks and a few feathers in an open field or marsh. 4-7 eggs is normal, but nests have been found with up to 9 eggs, and once 14 eggs, during years when meadow voles were high. The female incubates the eggs for 21-23 days; the young first fly about a month after hatching.

Length: 33-43 cm

Wingspan: 97-112 cm

Weight: males average 315 grams; females 380 grams.

Life expectancy: One bird lived in captivity for 10 years after being crippled by a TV aerial on a house. One banded in America survived 4 years, 4 months. One banded individual from Holland lived 12 years, 9 months.

Image Credits: Laura Erickson