Order: Strigiformes

Family: Strigidae

Scientific name: Asio flammeus, Pontoppidan, 1763

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Short-eared forages during day time also time unlike other owls those do it in night.


The Short-eared Owl is a medium-sized owl, measuring 35 to 40 cm in length and 200 to 400 grams in weight. The upperparts are mottled buff and brown. The wings and tail have black bars. The throat, breast and belly are pale buff with brown vertical streaking. The head large and round and the facial disc has white border. The eyes have black background. The ear-tufts are small and are usually visible only when the bird gets alarmed or in defensive mood. The bill is grey, strong and hooked. The irises are bright yellow. The legs and feet are covered with pale buff or cream coloured feathers. Both sexes look similar.


The diet of Short-eared Owl consists mainly of vertebrates. Small mammals like voles, shrews, mice, ground squirrels, rats, bats and moles are their primary food. Occasionally they predate on smaller birds, reptiles and insects. The indigestible parts of the prey like bones, claws and fur are regurgitated as pellets. The forage time is day and twilight and it is done mainly solitarily.


The habitats of Short-eared Owl include cultivated lands and pasturelands, flooded grasslands, scattered bushes, and semi deserts. In India it is seen as a wide spread winter visitor throughout the union except North east, North West, and some areas of Coromandel Coast. During that time is also seen Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and some areas of Pakistan.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season is from March to June. They are generally monogamous. The male short-eared owls make aerial courtship display by flapping the wings and swooping down over the nest. They nest on the ground, concealed by vegetation. The inner part of the nest may be lined with grass, moss and feathers. Normally 4-8 white eggs are laid. The eggs are incubated mostly by the female for 20-30 days. The young ones are cared by both parent birds.


The call is a loud, repeated “hoo…hoo…hoo” or “chrrrep…chrrrep” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Long-eared Owl (Asio otus).
  • Stygian Owl (Asio stygius).
  • Marsh Owl (Asio capensis).
  • Asio flammeus sanfordi of Falkland Islands.
  • Asio flammeus suinda of Southern Peru and Southern Brazil.

Migratory Behaviour

Common Winter Visitor