Fun Short-eared Owl Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 14, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fascinating short-eared owl facts.

Short-Eared Owls are medium-sized owls, with 10 different subspecies. They are found in North America, Eurasia, and pretty much all over the world except in Australia and Antarctica.

They have been named after their short ear tufts, which make them look adorable. They come with yellow-white and brown colored feathers with white legs and flanks, flat faces, and pretty eyes.

However, they can't see objects closer to them pretty well. They have lots of similarities with Long Eared Owls. However, Long-Eared owls have shorter wings.

Their habitat is in open countries, grasslands, wetlands, agricultural fields, and semi-urban areas. Their favorite prey is small rodents and they select their territory according to the availability of livestock. They play a key role in controlling rodents' population and they are mostly nocturnal.

They can fly over great distances during the migration period. There is a documented record of Short-Eared owls covering 3000 miles of distance. They are the only owl species that can survive in Himalayan ranges.

Their breeding season starts in April and the average litter size is 4-12 owlets. They perform magnificent courtship rituals, including wing clapping. They prefer their summer habitat as their breeding territory. They nest on the ground to avail themselves of protection from tall grasses. Females are always protective about their nest and they tend not to leave the nest.

To learn more, we have collected a set of interesting facts about owls for you to read, so read on if you want to discover all there is to know about Short-Eared Owls. You can also learn more about fascinating wild animals and birds by reading our articles on purple finch and tawny owl.  

Short-Eared Owl Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Short-Eared Owl?

Short-Eared Owls are a group of medium-sized owl birds from the Asio genus, with 10 recognized subspecies.

What class of animal does a Short-Eared Owl belong to?

Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) belongs to the Aves class of the Animalia kingdom.

How many Short-Eared Owls are there in the world?

According to the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, there are 350,000-2,000,000 individuals roaming around our world. Their population is widespread throughout the world and it's difficult to keep track of their population regularly.

Where does a Short-Eared Owl live?

You can spot Short-Eared Owls on every continent of Earth except for Australia and Antarctica. This group of owls is partly migratory and they travel to southern locations during the migration period.

What is a Short-Eared Owl's habitat?

The Short-Eared Owl habitat includes grasslands, open areas, wetlands, agricultural fields, marshes, bogs semi-urban areas, Alpine, and Arctic Tundra. They prefer territories with a good population of small mammals, especially small rodents.

Who do Short-Eared Owls live with?

Short-Eared Owls can live either solitary lives or live amongst a group. However, they always hunt alone. A group of owls is called a parliament. They develop communal roots in winter. During breeding seasons, they tend to live together. In that period nearly 200 Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus) can roost together.

How long does a Short-Eared Owl live?

On average, these owls can live up to four years. Studies say they can live more than four years, however, they often meet with accidental deaths or being shot. In captivity, their lifespan may get increased.

How do they reproduce?

Short-Eared Owls are monogamous. They gain sexual maturity at the age of one. To alert the female, male owls perform wing clapping and other acrobatics and may offer food to them as well. The breeding season begins in April.

It has been spotted that the breeding pair starts flying in opposite directions after a copulation period of four seconds. The preferred breeding area is their summer habitat, however, winter habitats may work just fine, if there is enough food for them. They nest on the ground.

The average litter size is four to seven, however, the number may reach a dozen as well. The incubation period is of 21 days. At the age of 14-18 days, they learn to walk outside of the nest. They have their first flight usually after a month post-hatching.

What is their conservation status?

They are listed as Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are spread throughout the world and the strength of their family is quite strong.

Thereby, they are not federally marked as Threatened or Endangered. However, they are marked as an Endangered species by the state of Michigan, due to their decreasing population in North America.

Short-Eared Owl Fun Facts

What do Short-Eared Owls look like?

It is a bit hard to differentiate between a male and female Short-Eared Owl. However, the females have a comparatively larger body.

Their body is covered with dark brown or yellow-white colored feather and white legs, flanks, and portions of the head. They possess two vertically tilted short ears. Their eyes are a bright, piercing yellow color with a dark ring around them, giving them an intense stare.

Short-Eared Owl family is widespread throughout the world.

How cute are they?

Short-Eared Owls may not be as gorgeous as Harry Potter's Hedwig, but they are cute indeed. Their short ears make them adorable.

How do they communicate?

They perform high-pitched calls to announce their discomfort or inconvenience. They make various other sounds to express themselves, for example, whining, screaming, and barking. To defend their nest, they may display broken wing distraction. They have their territorial song, which they sing in late February or March.

How big is a Short-Eared Owl?

The average size of Short-Eared Owls is 13.4-16.7 in (33-42 cm) in length, with an average wingspan of 37.4- 43.3 in (95-110 cm). They are almost half the size of an eagle.

How fast can a Short-Eared Owl fly?

They can fly fast. It gives them an edge in evading predator ambushes. They can fly at a speed of 19-24.8 mph (31-40 kmph).

How much does a Short-Eared Owl weigh?

Short-Eared owls weigh around 7.3–16.8 oz (206-475 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male owls are also called owl cock, and females are called owl hen.

What would you call a baby Short-Eared Owl?

A baby Short-Eared Owl is known as an owlet. The name itself is so adorable, isn't it?

What do they eat?

Their primary diet is small mammals, especially small rodents. Their diet includes rabbits, voles, ground squirrels, moles, muskrats, voles, and deer mice. They can also prey on small birds.

They prefer territories full of rodents so that they have a plentiful diet. Sometimes their breeding territory depends upon the availability of livestock in that area. They possess strong claws which help them with preying.

Are they dangerous?

They are not harmful or dangerous to humans. However, if provoked or threatened or to protect owlets, they may attack humans. In the nesting period, they can turn out to be quite aggressive.

Would they make a good pet?

These owls making a good pet might be a bit complicated. Wild birds do not make good pets usually. It is very difficult to train them. However, with proper nutrition, their lifespan may be increased in captivity.

Did you know...

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has done extensive research on Short-Eared Owls.

Short-Eared Owls have a huge impact on the ecosystem. They control the population of small mammals and rodents.

Short-Eared Owls have been spotted flying low while preying. Their natural coloration helps them evade attacks from their predators. Their known predators are red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, falcons, northern harriers, ravens, and herring gulls.

In Hawaiian islands, only two species of owls live, the Short-Eared Owl, and the Barn Owl. Their main objective in introducing them to these islands was to control the rodent population. In the United Kingdom, they are found in Northern England and Scotland.

Short-Eared Owls may roost in trees during winter. Females make the nest with feathers, herbs, stems, and stalks. They can emit high-pitched calls while still in the egg.

The Short-Eared Owl's call

The Short-Eared Owl call is a scratchy, harsh, bark-like call. They are usually fairly loud, but on the wintering grounds and breeding season, they may remain silent.

Why are Short-Eared Owls endangered?

Though Short-Eared Owls are listed as Least Concern species by the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, in Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania they are listed as Endangered species. The reason behind decreasing numbers of North American birds is loss of habitat and accidents.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including secretary bird, or tawny eagle.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our short-eared owl coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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