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Short-eared Owl flying by at the Wallkill River NWR, NJ/NY Canon EOS 1Dx 600mm f/4 IS II 1.4x telecenter

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl - Asio flammeus

Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Marsh, New Jersey / New York boundary

The Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) is a species of typical owl (family Strigidae). Owls belonging to genus Asio are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These "ear" tufts may or may not be visible. Asio flammeus will display its tufts when in a defensive pose. However, its very short tufts are usually not visible. The Short-eared Owl is found in open country and grasslands. The word flammeus is Latin for "flaming, or the color of fire".Short-eared Owl, is a medium-sized owl measuring 34–43 cm (13–17 in) in length and weighing 206–475 g (7.3–16.8 oz). The Short-eared Owl occurs on all continents except Antarctica and Australia; thus it has one of the largest distributions of any bird. It is partially migratory, moving south in winter from the northern parts of its range. The Short-eared Owl is known to relocate to areas of higher rodent populations. It will also wander nomadically in search of better food supplies during years when vole populations are low.Hunting occurs mostly at night, but this owl is known to be diurnal and crepuscular as well. Its daylight hunting seems to coincide with the high-activity periods of voles, its preferred prey. It tends to fly only feet above the ground in open fields and grasslands until swooping down upon its prey feet-first. Several owls may hunt over the same open area. Its food consists mainly of rodents, especially voles, but it will eat other small mammals such as mice, ground squirrels, shrews, rats, bats, muskrats and moles. It will also occasionally predate smaller birds, especially when near sea-coasts and adjacent wetlands at which time they attack shorebirds, terns and small gulls and seabirds with semi-regularity. Avian prey is more infrequently preyed on inland and centers on passerines such as larks, icterids, starlings, tyrant flycatchers and pipits. Insects supplement the diet and Short-eared Owls may prey on roaches, grasshoppers, beetles, katydids and caterpillars. Competition can be fierce in North America with the Northern Harrier, with which the owl shares similar habitat and prey preferences. Both species will readily harass the other when prey is caught. - Wikipedia

Photograph taken with a 1Dx camera and 600mm f/4 lens II +1.4x extender III - hover mouse over the upper right corner for detailed EXIF data

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