New York Natural Heritage Program
Short-eared Owl
Asio flammeus (Pontoppidan, 1763)

Threats [-]
The most significant threat to short-eared owls is habitat loss due to development, reforestation, wetland loss, and changes in farming practices such as conversion of hayfields to row crops or more frequent mowing of hayfields (Post 2004). As a ground-nesting bird, eggs and unfledged young are at risk of depredation by mammalian predators such as foxes, raccoons, and skunks. There is also increased risk of depredation by domestic and feral cats and dogs in areas with some development. A limiting factor for short-eared owls is their dependency on microtine rodent populations. Poisoning may be a threat in areas where humans are attempting to control rodent populations. As with many raptors, short-eared owls have been subjected to shooting by humans.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Large areas of open habitat in breeding and wintering areas need to be maintained in order to ensure the persistence of this species in New York. Potential management practices include burning, mowing, and plowing of fields after the breeding season. Use Landowner Incentive Program funds to conserve privately-owned grasslands. Coordinate conservation efforts with other agencies and organizations and initiate an outreach program (Post 2004).

Research Needs [-]
Population monitoring standards need to be developed and implemented to better estimate the local population status (distribution, abundance, and trends) during the breeding and non-breeding seasons. Current methods, such as flushing sitting females or roadside counts, are either labor and time intensive or result in under-estimating population sizes. More could be learned about nocturnal movements, migration patterns, adult and juvenile mortality, and the relationship between rodent abundance and territory size. Studies are needed on the effects of habitat management (i.e. burning, mowing, and plowing) on grassland birds (Post 2004) as well as small mammal populations.