Short Eared Owl


Last COSEWIC designation: April 1994
SARA risk category: Special Concern

Description: The Short-eared Owl is a medium-sized, buffy-white owl with very short ear tufts. The upper parts are broadly but softly streaked. Brown streaks on the abdomen are narrow and more sharply defined. Flight feathers and tail are barred with brown. It has poorly defined blackish areas, which frame the owl’s yellow eyes.

Habitat: The owl prefers extensive stretches of relatively open habitat. It is primarily a bird of marshland and deep grass fields. It likes to hunt and roost in abandoned pastures, fields, hay meadows, grain stubble, airports, young conifer plantations and marshes in the winter. It frequents prairies, grassy plains or tundra in the summer.

Threats: Large-scale destruction of native prairie grasslands has been particularly hard on this species. Natural succession, wetland drainage, urban expansion and increasingly intensive farming have contributed to its decline. The species is exposed to danger from predators and agricultural machinery since it nests on the ground.