Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus

NH Conservation Status: Not listed


State Rank Status: No data for NH. Population trend is unknown.


Distribution: Rare, winter visitor. Occasionally seen near the coast and in the Connecticut River Valley.


Description: Up to 17” in length and up to 40” wingspan. Body color is pale underneath with dark streaks on chest, dark marks on underside of wings visible in flight. Flies clumsily and close to the ground.


Voice: Males make a raspy bark, a “keee-ow” to warn intruders and also a series of 13-16 “whoos” while in flight. During courtship males perform display flights which include audible wing-claps.


Commonly Confused Species: Long eared owls are similar in size and color but have larger, more visible ear tufts. Barred owls are also similar in size and color but have more distinct patterning on the chest and belly and completely lack ear tufts.


Habitat: Large open fields, agricultural areas, forest clearings and fresh or salt water marshes.


Nesting: Nests consist of a scrape in the ground lined with grasses. A full clutch typically consists of 5-7 eggs. Females incubate the eggs for about 24-29 days; hatchlings leave the nest within a couple of weeks but stay in the area and depend on the parents for food for another couple of weeks when they are able to fly at about 4 weeks of age.


Diet: Hunts both day and night, usually at dawn and dusk, and primarily on rodents but will occasionally prey on small birds and insects.