A short-eared owl landing on a rock

Short-eared owl

Unlike many other owls, short-eared owls can frequently be seen hunting in broad daylight as well as in the early evening. They are skilled predators with keen vision even in low light and hearing accurate enough to pinpoint a small mammal in the undergrowth. They also have impressive aerial agility: To attract a mate the males perform dramatic sky-dancing displays accompanied by wing clapping to alert females of their presence. They may also offer food as a bribe to win females over.

Short-eared owls are one of the most widely distributed owl species. They are specialists of open country, possessing streaked plumage that blends perfectly into short vegetation. Unfortunately, the open habitat makes their ground nest sites vulnerable to predation from mammals.

Scientific name: Asio flammeus

Rank: Species

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Map showing the distribution of the Short-eared owl taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Short-eared owl can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, North America, Russia, South America, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Short-eared owl distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1