Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Birds
  3. Birds of prey
  4. Short-eared Owl


Short-eared owls mainly hunt during the daytime, flying low over moorland, grassland and salt marshes where they feed on field voles and small birds. About the same size as the barn owl but with long wings, short-eared owls breed in northern England and Scotland but can be seen more widely in winter. They nest on the ground in scraped-out hollows lined with grass and downy feathers.

How to identify

Short-eared owls are mottled yellowy-brown above, paler underneath and have dark circles around their yellow eyes. Short 'ear' tufts give them their common name. The very similar long-eared owl is darker with orangey-red eyes and long ear tufts and is more nocturnal, usually being found near woodland.

Where to find it

Nests on moorlands and young conifer plantations in north and west Britain. Winters in the lowlands, particularly wet grasslands and around the coast.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Short-eared owls are threatened by habitat loss and agricultural intensification. The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Short-eared Owl
Latin name
Asio flammeus
Birds of prey
Length: 34-42cm Wingspan: 1m Weight: 330g Average Lifespan: 13 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and listed under CITES Appendix II.