238 Short-eared Owl
(Asio flammeus)


33-40cm. The Short-eared Owl is a medium-sized owl. Wings very long, narrow and rather pointed, head comparatively small, rounded. Ear-tufts minute and rarely seen. Plumage pale yellow-brown and buff-white, heavily streaked. In certain lights, e.g. dusk or overcast weather, can look surprisingly whitish. Palish face with distinct black patches around yellow eyes, expression ‘mean’. Flight buoyant and wavering, wingbeats rowing in slow-motion fashion, wings rigid-looking, glides freely. Often perches on ground. In flight, distinguished from similar Long-eared Owl by white trailing edge to ‘arm’; wing-tip almost solidly black with only one bold bar inside tip; contrast between streaked breast and largely unstreaked belly; tail coarsely barred; tertials contrastingly darker below; wings proportionately somewhat longer and narrower. Sexes similar, male on average paler below and on face, and less heavily streaked.


The Short-eared Owl breeds in fluctuating number in sedge marshes, marshy meadows and grasslands, occasionally in wheat or alfalfa fields on lowlands (around Lake Fertő, Hanság, Sárrét in Transdanubia, Ócsa, Nagykunság, Hortobágy, Bihar Plain, Jászság). During migration and overwintering a low number of individuals can be observed in lowlands throughout the country. Winter visitor in varying numbers, seen primarily near sedge bogs and marshy meadows with sedge beds or tussocks, at times in flocks. Some individuals occasionally join Long-eared Owl roosting on evergreen trees.

238 Short-eared Owl pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008