Asio flammeus - Short-eared Owl

Phylum: Chordata - Class: Aves - Order: Strigiformes - Family: Strigidae

Asio flammeus, Short-eared Owl

Picture courtesy of Melvin Grey

This medium-sized owl of open countryside is not so plentiful as the other owls found in Britain. Its distribution in Wales is somewhat erratic, but the island of Skomer is one place they can usually be seen.

The feathery tufts that are referred to as 'ears' are nothing to do with the hearing organs of this bird.

Making almost no nest at all, short-eared owls lay their eggs of the ground between March and May. The young bird seen in this picture is only a month old; it is fluffing out its feathers and spitting in a defensive display.

Rats, mice, moles and other small mammals make up the staple diet of the short-eared owl, but it will also eat beetles and occasionally small birds. It hunts by day and by night.

Short-eared owls are resident in Britain, but their numbers are swelled by an influx of visitors in winter.

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