Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Don Paul
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The short-eared owl, Asio flammeus, is a medium-sized owl that frequently flies during daylight, especially at dusk and dawn, as it forages for rodents. This owl is usually found in grasslands, shrublands, and other open habitats. It is nomadic, often choosing a new breeding site each year, depending on local rodent densities. The breeding range covers the northern half of the United States and all of Canada. In winter, some birds migrate south as far as southern Mexico, though many remain in the vicinity of their breeding grounds as year-round residents.

There is some concern that short-eared owl populations are declining. It is an uncommon breeder in the northern half of the Utah, mostly in the northwestern portion of the state.

This owl nests beginning in April on the ground in a small depression excavated by the female. This depression is usually lined with a small amount of grass and other plant material. Usually four to eight eggs are laid, but when rodents are abundant, as many as fourteen eggs may be laid; the eggs are incubated by the female for 24 to 28 days. The male parent brings food to the nest, but the food is given to the owlets by the female. The young leave the nest after 12 to 17 days, but they are unable to fly for another 10 days.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.