Short-eared Owl

Photo by NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Asio flammeus
L 15″ (38 cm).

Song or calls:
Sharp, barked “kyow!.” 

Description: Sexes similar. Tawny overall; bold vertical streaking on breast; paler belly with lighter streaking; yellow eyes; ear tufts are barely visible. Black wrist marks can be seen in flight from below. Flight is wavering, and the wingbeats erratic.

Behavior: Can be seen hunting chiefly at dawn and dusk. During the day it roosts on the ground or on open low perches.

short eared owl
Habitat: Found throughout the year in open, grass-dominated habitats. Sandhills prairie and other natural grasslands are the favored habitats in Nebraska. Nests are usually located in grassy cover, with several pairs often nesting fairly close together.

Where in Nebraska: Common winter resident across the state. More common in the summer in preferred habitats however, least common in the Pine Ridge area.

Fun Facts: Short-eared owls are one of the few species to have benefited from strip-mining, by nesting on replanted and reclaimed areas south of its normal breeding range.

 Short-eared Owl - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Short-eared Owl - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
(click image for larger view)