NH Conservation Status: Not listed
State Rank Status: No data for NH. Population trend is unknown.
Distribution: Has occurred throughout NH. Rare and secretive. No recent breeding records.
Description: Up to 16” in length with up to 40” wingspan. Body color is a mixture of black, brown and off-white, face is rusty-orange colored face, and overall they are slender bodied with long black ear tufts with rusty orange fringes.
Voice: Males typically are only vocal during the breeding season and give a series of 10 or more slow and steady “whoo” notes every 2-4 seconds that can be heard almost a mile away. Both sexes make a “barking” call.
Commonly Confused Species: Great horned owls are larger in size and fuller bodied; short eared owls have much shorter ears that may not always be visible.
Habitat: Dense coniferous or mixed forests for roosting and nesting located near open areas such as fields or sparsely forested areas for feeding.
Nesting: Typically lay their eggs in a stick nest built in trees by other species. Females incubate 2-10 eggs for up to 30 days. Young are born with their eyes closed, covered in white down, and will stay in the nest for up to 3 weeks.
Diet: Primarily small mammals but will occasionally prey on small birds or reptiles.