The Short-eared Owl is similar to the Northern Harrier, which is also known as the Marsh Hawk. As the Northern Harrier, the Short-ear seems to prefer the marsh as hunting grounds and also makes its primary meal of mice. However, it is not restricted to the marsh and also nests, hunts and scans dry prarie, open grasslands, tundra and forest clearings.
The Short-eared Owl has ear tufts so short that many observers fail to notice them at first, hence the name "Short-eared Owl". The Short-ear is medium sized, 13-17 inches long and 38-44 inches in the span of the wings. The plumage of this owl varies from region to region, but generally is light to dark brown on the upper parts, head and chest. The upper parts are spotted and barred with darker browns and white. They are usually pure white on the undersides. The throat and chin are white also; the facial disc is dull white streaked with dark brown radial lines from the eyes.
Nests are built among tall grasses on the ground; occasionally the Short-ear nests in colonies. The nest has little material added, generally dried grasses and feathers. 4-7 white eggs are laid, incubated by the female for 21-23 days. The nestlings fly in 31-36 days.
The Short-eared Owl is found in the open spaces, from northern Canada and Alaska, as well as Greenland, to the central United States. It winters from the southern U.S. to Central America.
The Owl is considered a special case in a few states in the U.S., but is not listed federally in the U.S. This predator usually hunts during the night, but may hunt during daylight hours.