Status: A scarce winter visitor throughout Ireland and rare breeding species, mainly in the south and east. Favours uplands and coastal lowlands.
Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland due to its small breeding population. The European population is currently evaluated as Depleted due to a large historical decline.
Identification: The only Irish owl species likely to be seen hunting during the day. Very similar in appearance to Long-eared Owl in all plumages. Adult Short-eared Owls can be identified by their yellow eyes and very small "ear" tufts. The black steeaking on the body tends to be much coarser than on Long-eared Owl. Juvenile Short-eareds are identical to juvenile Long-eared Owls, but have yellow eyes.
Similar Species: Long-eared Owl, Barn Owl.
Call: Generally silent when seen in Ireland. Display includes a quiet series of hoots given in flight.
Diet: As for Long-eared Owl. Comprises small mammals, frogs and birds.
Breeding: Rare and sporadic breeding species in uplands throughout Ireland. The majority of the European population breeds in Scandinavia and Russia.
Wintering: Widespread winter visitor to coastal lowlands (dunes, scrubby fields, machair). Sometimes two or more Short-eared Owls can be seen hunting together at favoured sites.
Where to See: The Wicklow coast, including the East Coast Nature Reserve is a good area to look for Short-eared Owls in winter. Numbers fluctuate from year to year, so may absent from even optimal sites in some years.
Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey and BirdTrack.