© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus

  • Family: Owls – Strigidae
  • Appearance: Slightly larger than the Long-eared Owl, from which can also be distinguished by yellow eyes, shorter ear tufts, white trailing edge to wings, and less streaked underparts.
  • Size: Length 33–40 cm, wingspan 95–105 cm, weight 200–390 g.
  • Nest: In a depression on the ground among vegetation such as sedges or Labrador Tea. Nest material includes straw and feathers.
  • Breeding: 3–11 eggs laid in April–May, incubated by female for 24–30 days. Young learn to fly within 24–27 days.
  • Occurrence: Uncommon breeder in marshes and farmland throughout Finland. Densities highest in Ostrobothnia. Finnish breeding population estimated at 2,000–10,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Mainly nocturnal. Autumn migration August–November, returning March–April. Winters in Central and Southern Europe, also occasionally in Finland.
  • Diet: Small mammals.
  • Calls: Courtship call said to resemble the puffing of a distant steam train “up-uph-uph-up”.

Short-eared owls are slightly larger than Long-eared Owls, and their plumage is paler, more yellowish and more spotted above. They also differ from Long-eared Owls in that they have yellow eyes, much shorter ear tufts, and white trailing edges to their wings. They also have less streaking on their underparts, mainly on their breast, with a clear border delineating the edge of the belly. Short-eared owls’ legs are covered with feathers and have black claws. Their beaks are blackish with a pale tip. Their irises are bright yellow.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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