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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Short-eared Owl Migration, little is known!



It was intriguing when we recently heard a Blue Jay, notorious for imitating calls of others, give a Short-eared Owl call as it flew over our heads in late afternoon. A few days before this, Don may have heard one call of a Short-eared Owl at dusk. Interesting that just about this time (Oct. 27th 2013) we were at our nearby hawk watch site, Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory in southwest NH, and saw a Short-eared Owl migrating, a first record for that site. It was migrating during the day and popped up above the mountain in the midst of some ravens. Much excitement at seeing the first one there and it was a thrill. Recently on NH birds list serve, a Short-eared Owl was reported from migrating on the NH coast, a more common place to see this uncommon owl.

Little is known about Short-eared Owl migration according to the authoritative source on bird behavior, The Birds of North America online.

The Short-eared Owl is one of my favorite owls. This medium-sized owl lives in open habitats, such as tundra, grasslands, fields, marshes, prairies and savannas, where it hunts small mammals. It breeds mostly in the far North and parts of the West and can be seen in winter in many parts of the country.

All the photos above, except the small bottom photo which is of the owl over Pack Monadnock, are of a Short-eared Owl I saw on Christmas several years ago in the marshes of Salisbury Beach, MA. This owl mostly hunts at night, sometimes during the day. I was lucky it was out and gave me photo ops. This owl flies erratically, like a moth, and courses low over the ground. 

So keep your eye and ears open for Short-eared Owls and you may add to the information on its migration.

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