I’m working towards a full set of five English owls. So far I have captured the characteristics of the Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, and Long-eared Owl. This week number four is the Short-eared Owl. I am still paying attention to pattern, colour and simple forms. Unfortunately I ran dry my favourite black markers, so I ended up using green and dark red markers instead.
Some facts about Short-eared Owls are:
1) Short-eared owls are one of the world’s most widely distributed owls, and among the most frequently seen in daylight; often seen hunting over open ground such as grassland. However they do most of their hunting at night; daylight hunting seems to coincide with periods of high-activity in their prey, voles.
2) Their habitats also include coastal grasslands, heathlands, meadows, shrubsteppe, savanna, tundra, marshes, dunes, and agricultural areas.
3) As suggested by their global distribution, these owls travel long distances including navigating oceans; it has been reported that these owls have been seen alighting on ships hundreds of miles from land.
4) These owls nest on the ground. The female will scrape a bowl out of the ground and line it with grasses and feathers; they will often build their nest atop the nest from the previous year. Nests are about 10 inches across and 2 inches tall. They will lay between 1-11 eggs.
5) The Latin name for this owl is Asio flammeus; Asio meaning a type of eared owl and flammeus meaning flame-coloured. This owl has short ear tufts which are hard to see and as in the Long-eared Owl have nothing to do with the owls’ ears!
(© Catherine Cronin)