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SHORT-EARED OWL } Asio flammeus

RANGE: Europe, North and South America

STATUS: Short-eared owls are thought to be Secure. May be Critically Imperiled in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Canada. It is a Species of Special Concern in California.

THREATS: Degradation of open habitat, natural predators, collisions with vehicles and aircraft; may be affected by pesticides accumulated through prey; declines in California due to destruction of marsh and tall grassland habitat, livestock grazing and shooting

With a worldwide population of 2.4 million birds, there’s no reason the short-eared owl should be included on any list of threatened or endangered species, right? These owls are widespread throughout the Old World and North and South America, and are even found in Iceland, Hawaii, and the Galapagos Islands. They thrive in a variety of habitats: prairies, grasslands, salt marshes, estuaries, mountain meadows, and alpine and Arctic tundra. Although their population is generally thought to be secure, there is evidence of decline in many parts of North America due to habitat degradation, pesticides, and other threats.

Photo © Alan Stankevitz