The short-eared owl is a medium-sized bird of prey that can be found throughout much of North America, Europe, and Asia. They have a wingspan of about 3 feet and typically weigh between 10-17 ounces, with males generally being smaller than females. Short-eared owls have distinctive facial disks that are pale in color, and their eyes are large and yellow. They also have short ear tufts that are barely visible, making them easy to distinguish from other owl species.
In terms of behavior, short-eared owls are active during the day and the night, making them diurnal. They are also ground-nesters, preferring to make their nests on the ground in areas such as grasslands, tundras, and marshes. When hunting, they fly low over open fields and grasslands in search of small mammals, such as mice and voles, which make up the majority of their diet.
One of the most distinctive features of short-eared owls is their migration pattern. While some individuals are year-round residents in certain areas, many short-eared owls migrate to warmer climates during the winter months. In North America, short-eared owls breed in the northern regions of Canada and Alaska, and then migrate south to more temperate areas during the winter. In Europe and Asia, short-eared owls breed in the northern latitudes and then migrate to more southern areas during the winter as well.
Despite being widespread throughout much of their range, short-eared owls are currently facing a number of threats. Habitat loss due to agricultural practices and development is a major concern, as is predation by other birds of prey and hunting by humans. Conservation efforts aimed at protecting grassland habitats and raising awareness about the importance of these birds are essential to ensure the continued survival of this unique species.