SCIENTIFIC NAME:Asio flammeus POPULATION: 600,000 (North America); 3 million (worldwide). TREND: Difficult to assess; locally common in some areas, endangered in others. HABITAT: Open spaces: grasslands, agricultural fields, marshes, tundra.
The Short-eared Owl’s Latin name, flammeus, means “fiery” and refers to its boldly streaked plumage, which provides excellent camouflage in the open grasslands this bird favors. It is widely distributed around the world, with ten recognized subspecies. One of these, the Pueo, is Hawai’i’s only native owl.
Flying over open terrain and often active during the early morning and evening, the Short-eared Owl can take on a markedly ghost-like appearance. Usually silent, the bird flies close to the ground with deep, slow wing beats that give it a buoyant quality.