This “crow-sized” owl is diurnal (active during the day). Females are slightly larger than males (typical of most raptors), and considerably heavier, averaging 411 grams compared to 350 grams for males. Plumage is tawny-brown on the body with streaking on the chest and belly. Wings and tail are dark brown blotched with white, primary flight feathers are tan with black stripes. A distinctive black patch on the underwing occurs near the bend (wrist). The ear tufts are clumps of feathers and may or may not be visible depending on the owl’s ‘mood’.
Feet are covered in short buff-coloured feathers. Dark eye orbits surround yellow eyes in a circular facial disc. Ear tufts are small and inconspicuous unless the owl is startled or defensive. Ear tufts may possibly aid in making birds more difficult to see in vegetation by breaking the line of the circular facial disc. The dark eye orbits with their distinct white edging may assist in cutting glare while hunting during the day. Juvenile owls are similar in colour to adults but retain more black on the facial disc until their first fall. The adults call is similar to the sound of a small dog barking.
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COSEWIC. 2008. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vi + 24 pp.
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Demarchi, M.W. and M.D. Bently. 2005/2013. [Internet].Best Management Practices for Raptor Conservation during Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia. B.C. Minist. of Environment, Victoria, B.C. Minist. of Environment BMP Series.
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks Resources Inventory Branch. [Internet].2001. RISC standards # 11 Inventory Methods for Raptors (Version 2.0).
Proulx, Gilbert et al. 2003. A Field Guide to Species at Risk in the Coast Forest Region of British Columbia. Published by International Forest Products and BC Minist. of Environment. Victoria (BC).
Ransome, D., B. Gunn, and D. Bradbeer. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) and Townsend’s Vole (Microtus Townsendii) dynaics in grassland set-asides.
Species Profile prepared by: Pamela Zevit, RPBio. for the South Coast Conservation Program (SCCP) in partnership with: International Forest Products (Interfor), Capacity Forestry (CapFor) and the BC Ministry of Environment (BC MoE). Funding was made possible through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI): http://www.sfiprogram.org.
Updated and revised by: Isabelle Houde, RPBio in consultation with the SCCP. Part of the National Conservation Plan, this project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada. Dans le cadre du Plan de Conservation National, ce projet a été réalisé avec l’appui financier du Gouvernement du Canada.
Every effort has been made to ensure content accuracy. Comments or corrections should be directed to the South Coast Conservation Program: email@example.com. Content updated June 2016.Image Credits: Short-eared Owl: Marie O’Shaughnessy, Short-eared Owl close-up: A. Wilson, Long-eared Owl: Mindaugas Urbonas (Wikipedia), Habitat: Pamela Zevit. Only images sourced from “creative commons” sources (e.g. Wikipedia, Flickr, U.S. Government) can be used without permission and for non-commercial purposes only. All other images have been contributed for use by the SCCP and its partners/funders only.