Category: Birding at the Chico
A ground owl of the grasslands, Short-eared Owls are crepuscular (hunting at dusk and dawn) but occassionally they are seen hunting on overcast days.  Today was an exception as this bird and another were visible on the ground, and in flight, at 11:15 A.M. in the bright sunlight.

Short-eared Owls that breed in the northern part of their range (arctic tundra)retreat to the south for the winter and are often found in large communal groups.  These two birds were spotted in the sandhills a habitat where they have been seen just north and east of the Chico in winters' past.

As in Long-eared Owl, their "ear" tufts on this species are decorative and aid in their camouflage with their real ears located on the sides of their face. Short-eared Owls are found on every continent except Australia.  Their moth-like flight is distinctive, possibly mimicing the flight of the raptor, Northern Harrier.  Rodents are the main food of this species.  Although rarely reported on the Chico, Short-eared Owl is most likely a regular winter visitor and they could possibly breed on the ground in the sandhills area of the Ranch.

Posted by Bill M. on 12/29/2008

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