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.

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