Short-eared Owl
Overview
The Short-eared Owl is a species of typical owl
Typical owl
True owl or Typical owl are one of the two generally accepted families of Owls, the other being the barn owls . The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy unites the Caprimulgiformes with the owl order; here, the typical owls are a subfamily Strigidae...

 (family Strigidae). In Scotland this species of owl is often referred to as a cataface, grass owl or short-horned hootlet. Owls belonging to genus Asio
Asio
Asio is a genus of typical owls, or true owls, in family Strigidae. The genus Asio contains the eared owls, which are characterised by feather tufts on the head which have the appearance of ears...

are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These "ear" tufts may or may not be visible. Asio flammeus will display its tufts when in a defensive pose.
Encyclopedia
The Short-eared Owl is a species of typical owl
Typical owl
True owl or Typical owl are one of the two generally accepted families of Owls, the other being the barn owls . The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy unites the Caprimulgiformes with the owl order; here, the typical owls are a subfamily Strigidae...

 (family Strigidae). In Scotland this species of owl is often referred to as a cataface, grass owl or short-horned hootlet. Owls belonging to genus Asio
Asio
Asio is a genus of typical owls, or true owls, in family Strigidae. The genus Asio contains the eared owls, which are characterised by feather tufts on the head which have the appearance of ears...

are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These "ear" tufts may or may not be visible. Asio flammeus will display its tufts when in a defensive pose. However, its very short tufts are usually not visible. The Short-eared Owl is found in open country and grasslands. The word flammeus is Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "flaming, or the color of fire".

Description

Asio flammeus, the Short-eared Owl, is a medium-sized owl measuring 34 – in length and weighing 206–475 g (7.3–16.8 oz). It has large eyes, big head, short neck, and broad wings. Its bill is short, strong, hooked and black. Its plumage is mottled tawny to brown with a barred tail and wings. The upper breast is significantly streaked (Alsop 2001). Wingspans range from 85 to 110 cm (33.5 to 43.3 in). Females are slightly larger than males. The yellow-orange eyes of A. flammeus are exaggerated by black rings encircling each eye, giving the appearance of them wearing Mascara
Mascara
Mascara is a cosmetic commonly used to enhance the eyes. It may darken, thicken, lengthen, and/or define the eyelashes. Normally in one of three forms—liquid, cake, or cream—the modern mascara product has various formulas; however, all contain the same basic components of pigments, oils, waxes, and...

, and large, whitish disks of plumage surrounding the eyes like a mask.

Separation from Long-eared Owl

Over much of its range, Short-eared Owls occurs with the similar-looking Long-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl
The Long-eared Owl - Asio otus is a species of owl which breeds in Europe, Asia, and North America. This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known as typical owls, family Strigidae, which contains most species of owl...

. At rest, the ear-tufts of Long-eared Owl serve to easily distinguish the two (although Long-eared Owl can sometimes hold its ear-tufts flat). The iris-colour differs: yellow in Short-eared, and orange in Long-eared, and the black surrounding the eyes is vertical on Long-eared, and horizontal on Short-eared. Overall Short-eared tends to be a paler, sandier bird than Long-eared. There are a number of other ways in which the two species differ which are best seen when they are flying: a) Short-eared often has a broad white band along the rear edge of the wing, which is not shown by Long-eared; b) on the upperwing, Short-eared Owl's primary-patches are usually paler and more obvious; c) the band on the upper side of Short-eared Owl's tail are usually bolder than those of Long-eared; d) Short-eared's innermost secondaries are often dark-marked, contrasting with the rest of the underwing; e) Long-eared Owl has streaking throughout its underparts whereas on Short-eared the streaking ends at the breast; f) the dark markings on the underside of the tips of the longest primaries are bolder on Short-eared Owl; g) the upperparts are coarsely blotched, whereas on Long-eared they are more finely marked. Short-eared Owl also differs structurally from Long-eared, having longer, slimmer wings: Long-eared Owl has wings shaped more like those of a Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl
The Tawny Owl or Brown Owl is a stocky, medium-sized owl commonly found in woodlands across much of Eurasia. Its underparts are pale with dark streaks, and the upperparts are either brown or grey. Several of the eleven recognised subspecies have both variants...

.

Subspecies

Currently, there are ten recognized subspecies of the Short-eared Owl:
  • Asio flammeus bogotensis (Chapman
    Frank Chapman
    Frank Michler Chapman was a U.S. ornithologist and pioneering writer of field guides.Chapman was born in West Englewood, New Jersey and attended Englewood Academy. He joined the staff of the American Museum of Natural History in 1888 as assistant to Joel Asaph Allen...

    , 1915)
  • Asio flammeus domingensis (Statius Müller
    Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller
    Philipp Ludwig Statius Muller was a German zoologist.Statius Muller was born in Esens, and was Professor of Natural Science at Erlangen. Between 1773 and 1776, he published a German translation of Linnaeus's Natursystem...

    , 1776)
  • Asio flammeus flammeus (Pontoppidan
    Erik Pontoppidan
    Erik Pontoppidan was a Danish author, bishop, historian and antiquary, born in Aarhus August 24, 1698; died in Copenhagen December 20, 1764. He was educated in Fredericia , after which he was a private tutor in Norway, and then studied in Holland, and in London and Oxford, England...

    , 1763)
  • Asio flammeus galapagoensis (Gould
    John Gould
    John Gould was an English ornithologist and bird artist. The Gould League in Australia was named after him. His identification of the birds now nicknamed "Darwin's finches" played a role in the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection...

    , 1837)
    - Galápagos Islands
    Galápagos Islands
    The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a...

  • Asio flammeus pallidicaudus (Friedmann
    Herbert Friedmann
    Herbert Friedmann was an American ornithologist. He worked at the Smithsonian Institution for more than 30 years. In 1929 he became a fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union and served as the President of the A.O.U. from 1937 to 1939. He published 17 books and was noted for study of Avian...

    , 1949)
  • Asio flammeus ponapensis (Mayr, 1933)
  • Asio flammeus portoricensis (Ridgway, 1882)
  • Asio flammeus sandwichensis (A. Bloxam
    Andrew Bloxam
    Andrew Bloxam was an English clergyman and naturalist; in his later life he had a particular interest in botany. He was the naturalist on board during its voyage around South America and the Pacific in 1824–26, where he collected mainly birds...

    , 1827)
    : Pueo
    Pueo
    The Pueo is a subspecies of Short-eared owl that is endemic to Hawaii. The pueo is one of the various nā aumākua in Hawaiian culture....

     or Hawaiian Short-eared Owl - Hawaii
    Hawaii
    Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

  • Asio flammeus sanfordi (Bangs
    Outram Bangs
    Outram Bangs was an American zoologist.Bangs was born in Watertown, Massachusetts and studied at Harvard from 1880 to 1884...

    , 1919)
  • Asio flammeus suinda (Vieillot
    Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot
    Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot was a French ornithologist.Vieillot described a large number of birds for the first time, especially those he encountered during the time he spent in the West Indies and North America, and 26 genera established by him are still in use...

    , 1817)

Range

The Short-eared Owl occurs on all continents except Antarctica and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

; thus it has one of the largest distributions of any bird. A. flammeus breeds in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, North
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 and the Galápagos Islands
Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a...

. It is partially migratory
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

, moving south in winter from the northern parts of its range. The Short-eared Owl is known to relocate to areas of higher rodent populations (Ehrlich 1988). It will also wander nomadically in search of better food supplies during years when vole
Vole
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars . There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America...

 populations are low. See a map of the Short-eared Owl's distribution across the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

.

Nesting and reproduction

Sexual maturity is attained at one year. Breeding season in the northern hemisphere lasts from March to June, peaking in April. During this time these owls may gather in flocks. During breeding season, the males make great spectacles of themselves in flight to attract females. The male swoops down over the nest flapping its wings in a courtship display (Ehrlich 1988). These owls are generally monogamous.

The Short-eared Owl nests on the ground in prairie, tundra, savanna, or meadow habitats
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

. Nests are concealed by low vegetation, and may be lightly lined by weeds, grass, or feathers (Ehrlich 1988). Approximately 4 to 7 white eggs are found in a typical clutch
Clutch (eggs)
A clutch of eggs refers to all the eggs produced by birds or reptiles, often at a single time, particularly those laid in a nest.In birds, destruction of a clutch by predators, , results in double-clutching...

, but clutch size can reach up to a dozen eggs in years when vole
Vole
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars . There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America...

s are abundant. There is one brood
Offspring
In biology, offspring is the product of reproduction, of a new organism produced by one or more parents.Collective offspring may be known as a brood or progeny in a more general way...

 per year. The eggs are incubated mostly by the female for 21–37 days. Offspring fledge
Fledge
Fledge is the stage in a young bird's life when the feathers and wing muscles are sufficiently developed for flight. It also describes the act of a chick's parents raising it to a fully grown state...

 at a little over four weeks. This owl is known to lure predators away from its nest by appearing to have a crippled wing (Alsop 2001).

Diet and foraging habits

Hunting occurs mostly at night, but this owl is diurnal
Diurnal animal
Diurnality is a plant or animal behavior characterized by activity during the day and sleeping at night.-In animals:Animals that are not diurnal might be nocturnal or crepuscular . Many animal species are diurnal, including many mammals, insects, reptiles and birds...

 and crepuscular
Crepuscular
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk. The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight." Crepuscular is, thus, in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright...

 as well as nocturnal. Its daylight hunting seems to coincide with the high-activity periods of vole
Vole
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars . There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America...

s, its preferred prey. It tends to fly only feet above the ground in open fields and grasslands until swooping down upon its prey feet-first (Alsop 2001). Several owls may hunt over the same open area (Kaufman 2000). Its food consists mainly of rodents, especially vole
Vole
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars . There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America...

s, but it will eat other small mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s such as mice
Mouse
A mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse . It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles...

, ground squirrel
Ground squirrel
The ground squirrels are members of the squirrel family of rodents which generally live on or in the ground, rather than trees. The term is most often used for the medium-sized ground squirrels, as the larger ones are more commonly known as marmots or prairie dogs, while the smaller and less...

s, shrew
Shrew
A shrew or shrew mouse is a small molelike mammal classified in the order Soricomorpha. True shrews are also not to be confused with West Indies shrews, treeshrews, otter shrews, or elephant shrews, which belong to different families or orders.Although its external appearance is generally that of...

s, rat
Rat
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

s, bat
Bat
Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera "hand" and pteron "wing") whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly,...

s, muskrat
Muskrat
The muskrat , the only species in genus Ondatra, is a medium-sized semi-aquatic rodent native to North America, and introduced in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands and is a very successful animal over a wide range of climates and habitats...

s and mole
Mole
- Animals :* Mole or "true mole", many of the mammals in the family Talpidae, found in Eurasia and North America* Golden moles, southern African mammals, similar to but unrelated to Talpidae moles...

s. It will also occasionally predate smaller birds, especially when near sea-coasts and adjacent wetlands at which time they attack shorebirds, tern
Tern
Terns are seabirds in the family Sternidae, previously considered a subfamily of the gull family Laridae . They form a lineage with the gulls and skimmers which in turn is related to skuas and auks...

s and small gull
Gull
Gulls are birds in the family Laridae. They are most closely related to the terns and only distantly related to auks, skimmers, and more distantly to the waders...

s and seabird
Seabird
Seabirds are birds that have adapted to life within the marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle, behaviour and physiology, they often exhibit striking convergent evolution, as the same environmental problems and feeding niches have resulted in similar adaptations...

s with semi-regularity. Avian prey is more infrequently preyed on inland and centers on passerines such as lark
Lark
Larks are passerine birds of the family Alaudidae. All species occur in the Old World, and in northern and eastern Australia; only one, the Shore Lark, has spread to North America, where it is called the Horned Lark...

s, icterid
Icterid
The Icterids are a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the New World. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The family is extremely varied in size, shape, behavior and coloration...

s, starling
Starling
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name "Sturnidae" comes from the Latin word for starling, sturnus. Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent...

s, flycatcher
Flycatcher
There are various families of bird termed flycatchers:* The Old World flycatchers, Muscicapidae* The Tyrant flycatchers, Tyrannidae* The Monarch flycatchers, Dicruridae* The Silky-flycatchers, Ptilogonatidae* The Fairy flycatchers, Stenostiridae...

s and pipit
Pipit
The pipits are a cosmopolitan genus, Anthus, of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. Along with the wagtails and longclaws, the pipits make up the family Motacillidae...

s. Insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s supplement the diet and Short-eared Owls may prey on roach
Roach
-Animals:* Cockroaches* Roach , including** Certain members of family Cyprinidae** the genus Rutilus*** Common Roach ** the California Roach of the monotypic genus Hesperoleucus-Other:...

es, grasshopper
Grasshopper
The grasshopper is an insect of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper...

s, beetle
Beetle
Coleoptera is an order of insects commonly called beetles. The word "coleoptera" is from the Greek , koleos, "sheath"; and , pteron, "wing", thus "sheathed wing". Coleoptera contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms...

s, katydids and caterpillar
Caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

s. Its flight is characteristically floppy due to its irregular wingbeats. The Short-eared Owl may also be described as "moth or bat-like" in flight. Competition can be fierce in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 with the Northern Harrier, which occupies similar habitats, and both species readily harrass the other when prey is caught.

Calls

Short-eared Owls have a scratchy bark-like call. Raspy waowk, waowk, waowk or toot-toot-toot-toot-toot sounds are common. A loud eeee-yerp is also heard on breeding grounds. However, Short-eared Owls are silent on the wintering grounds (Alsop 2001).

Conservation status

It is listed as declining in the southern portion of its range. It is listed as of special concern, threatened, or endangered in some states and common in northern portion of breeding range.

It is listed as endangered in New Mexico state. Its appearance at the Calverton Executive Airpark
Calverton Executive Airpark
Calverton Executive Airpark is a public-owned private-use airport located three miles west of the central business district of the Calverton hamlet, in the Town of Riverhead, Suffolk County, New York, United States...

 on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

 has prompted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for the conservation, improvement, and protection of natural resources within the U.S. state of New York. It was founded in 1970, replacing the previous Conservation Department...

 to take the lead on ruling whether a massive redevelopment of the airport will receive the necessary environmental permits.

Identification

  • Davis, A. H. and R. J. Prytherch (1976) Field identification of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls British Birds
    British Birds (magazine)
    British Birds is a monthly ornithology magazine that was established in 1907. It is now published by BB 2000 Ltd, which is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust , established for the benefit of British ornithology...

    69: 281-7
  • Kemp, J. B. (1982) Field identification of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls British Birds
    British Birds (magazine)
    British Birds is a monthly ornithology magazine that was established in 1907. It is now published by BB 2000 Ltd, which is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust , established for the benefit of British ornithology...

    75(5): 227
  • Robertson, Iain S. (1982) Field identification of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls British Birds
    British Birds (magazine)
    British Birds is a monthly ornithology magazine that was established in 1907. It is now published by BB 2000 Ltd, which is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust , established for the benefit of British ornithology...

    75(5): 227-9
  • Kemp, J. B. (1982) Tail-lengths of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls British Birds
    British Birds (magazine)
    British Birds is a monthly ornithology magazine that was established in 1907. It is now published by BB 2000 Ltd, which is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust , established for the benefit of British ornithology...

    75(5): 230

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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