Short-Eared Owl

Asio flammeus
Range Map

The Short-Eared Owl is one of the most widely distributed owls on the globe. They find homes on the North and South American continents, as well as Europe, Asia, and Africa. They can find their way to remote islands and have been seen landing on ships hundreds of miles out to sea. Even Hawaii hosts a native population of these world travellers.

These daytime hunters specialize in grasslands and open country and hunt small animals and birds.

Today, science recognises ten subspecies of Short-Eared Owl:

  • A. f. flammeus lives in North America, Europe, northern Africa, and northern Asia.
  • A. f. domingensis lives in Hispaniola and Cuba.
  • A. f. portoricensis lives in Puerto Rico.
  • A. f. galapagoensis lives in the Galapagos Islands.
  • A. f. bogotensis lives in northwestern South America from Colombia to Peru.
  • A. f. pallidicaudus lives in northern South America from Venezuela to Guyana.
  • A. f. suinda lives in central and southern South America from Peru and Brazil south to Tierra del Fuego.
  • A. f. sanfordi lives on the Falkland Islands.
  • A. f. sandwichensis lives on the Hawaiian Islands.
  • A. f. ponapensis lives on islands of the western Pacific.

Short-Eared Owls are unusual finds in southern California, and when they are found, they cause a stir among local birders. I’ve met them in southeastern Oregon and in Wyoming, but only the Wyoming bird posed for my camera.

Click map markers to reveal further information