Asio flammeus

The Short-Eared Owl is widely distributed across North America, including Southern Ontario, and these are an Owl which is often seen during daylight.

Short Eared Owl on a branch of an evergreen tree

The Short-eared Owl is a medium-sized bird, secretive by nature and as such, difficult to observe.

They belong to the genus "Aseo" or "Eared Owls", although the ear tufts may or may not be visible on any particular individual, only showing them when on the defense.

Like other Owls, they have large eyes and head, a short neck, broad wings and a strong hooked beak.

As in other species of Owl, the female is larger than the male.

The wingspan may be between 38 and 44 inches and they have distinctive orange-yellow eyes, ringed with black, and large discs of pale plumage around the eyes.

These birds seem to hide their nests on the ground, usually hiding them in meadows and prairies, in tussocks of grass, however, not much is known about their breeding habits.

We know that their eggs are usually laid from the beginning of April to the middle of May and take between 26 to 37 days of incubation to hatch.

The young do not hatch at the same time, but one after the other in an asynchronous way, and the young leave the nest at the age of about two weeks, before they are fully fledged at one month of age. These owls reach maturity at one year old.

Short Eared Owl in flight with outstretched wings hunting Voles at dusk

Hunting occurs mainly in the hour before dawn and dusk, however these owls do hunt during the day as well, which they do by flying just feet over open ground and swooping, feet-first onto their prey.

Their prey consists of voles and other rodents, such as moles and rats, large insects and even small birds.

Not much is known about the migration of this bird, although, it is believed that they migrate to the warmer parts of North America, the Caribbean and South America during the winter months, but some are year long residents in Canada.

I have heard that they are not a long-lived species, and the oldest recorded Short-Eared Owl on record, lived to be less than five years old.

Short-Eared Owl Info ...

Short Eared Owl - All About Birds, information on the habitat and habits of this species of owl

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The Owl Pages - Short-eared Owl
Lots of interesting information about these owls - their habits and habitat

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