The Short Eared Owl
- Length: 37 - 39cms (15 - 16ins)
- Wingspan: 95 - 100cms (37 - 40ins)
- Weight: 0.26 - 0.42kg (9 - 15oz)
- Habitat: Open country. Unlike other owls, the Short-Eared builds its own nests, either ground scrapes in tall vegetation or more substantial structuresin wet areas.
Short-Eared Owls are unusual owls in their preference for open country, notably moorland, heathland, marshes and sand dunes. However; the population is extremely mobile and this - combined with its migratory habits - makes any estimation of their numbers very difficult, so much so the Winter Atlas of 1986 put the midwinter population anywhere between 5,000 and 50,000 individuals!
Despite being a specialist feeder on small mammals (especially voles), the Short-Eared Owl is very adaptable and wil feed on a wide variety of other species during temporary slumps in the vole population. Its normal hunting method consists of quatering the ground at a height of less than 3 metres, alternating between flapping its wings and gliding. and occasionally hovering whilst searching for its prey.
Short-Eared Owls have a maximum wingspan of 1 metre, but weigh less than half a kilo. The very small ear tuffs from which they get their name have nothing to do with hearing but are used to communicate mood with woild-be aggressors.