The Distinctive Flight Plan of The Short Eared Owl

by Chris Anderson on February 12, 2024
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
The Short-Eared Owl found in North America is an amazing bird with distinctive features that set it apart from other birds. This blog post will delve into how the owl got its name, habitat and range, size and weight, differences between males and females, its diet, unique behavior, reproduction and nesting behavior, and a mind-blowing fact about the owl.

How The Short-Eared Owl Got Its Name

The Short-Eared Owl got its name from the short tufts of feathers on its head that look like ears. These tufts do not function as ears but are used for communication and to help the owl blend in with its surroundings. The Short-Eared Owl is also known as the "Marsh Owl" because it prefers marshy areas.

Habitat And Range

The Short-Eared Owl lives in North America, Europe, and Asia. It prefers open areas like grasslands, marshes, and fields. It is found in the northern parts of its range during the breeding season, and during the winter, it moves southward.

Size And Weight

The Short-Eared Owl is a medium-sized owl, measuring between 13 and 17 inches long, with a wingspan of 33 to 41 inches. It weighs between 7 and 16 ounces, with females slightly larger than males.

Differences Between Males And Females

Female Short-Eared Owls are typically larger than males, with a wider wingspan and heavier weight. Additionally, females have more intricate patterns on their feathers than males.

The Interesting Diet of The Short-Eared Owl

The Short-Eared Owl is a hunter feeding on various prey, including rodents, birds, and insects. It hunts during the day and night, using its keen eyesight and hearing to locate prey. Interestingly, it is one of the few owls that will hunt in groups, working together to catch prey.

Unique Behavior

The Short-Eared Owl is known for its unique behavior of hovering over its prey before swooping to catch it. It is also known for its distinctive flight pattern, a series of deep wing beats followed by a glide.

Reproduction And Nesting Behavior

The Short-Eared Owl typically breeds in the spring, with females laying between 4 and 7 eggs in a shallow depression on the ground. Both males and females take turns incubating the eggs, which hatch after about 28 days. After hatching, the chicks are cared for by both parents and can fly after about five weeks.

An Amazing Fact About The Owl

The Short-Eared Owl has incredibly sharp hearing, which allows it to locate prey even in complete darkness. Its facial disc, a circular arrangement of feathers around its eyes, helps funnel sound to its ears, allowing it to hear prey rustling in the grass from several feet away.


In conclusion, the Short-Eared Owl is an extraordinary bird with unique features and behaviors that make it a wonder to behold. From its hovering and distinctive flight pattern to its ability to hunt in groups and incredibly sharp hearing, it is truly a marvel of nature.