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

Habitat [-]
Open areas such as grasslands (hayfields, fallow farm lands, and pastures) and fresh and salt water marshes are typically used during the Short-eared Owl breeding season in New York. They tend to prefer habitats with some water which may be due to the habitat preference of voles, their primary prey. Day roosts are typically on the ground, but also may be under low shrubs, in conifers, or low open perches. During the winter months, Short-eared Owls use habitats similar to the those of the breeding season. They also can be found at old dumps where rodent populations may be high. They may move further south during winters with deep snow cover.

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Cropland/field crops
    An agricultural field planted in field crops such as alfalfa, wheat, timothy, and oats. This community includes hayfields that are rotated to pasture.
  • Dwarf shrub bog*
    A wetland usually fed by rainwater or mineral-poor groundwater and dominated by short, evergreen shrubs and peat mosses. The surface of the peatland is usually hummocky, with shrubs more common on the hummocks and peat moss throughout. The water in the bog is usually nutrient-poor and acidic.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • High salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide up to the limit of spring tides. It is periodically flooded by spring tides and flood tides. High salt marshes typically consist of a mosaic of patches that are mostly dominated by a single graminoid species.
  • Low salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide down to mean sea level or to about 2 m (6 ft) below mean high tide. It is regularly flooded by semidiurnal tides. The mean tidal range of low salt marshes on Long Island is about 80 cm, and they often form in basins with a depth of 1.6 m or greater.
  • Salt panne*
    A shallow depression in a salt marsh where the marsh is poorly drained. Pannes occur in both low and high salt marshes. Pannes in low salt marshes usually lack vegetation, and the substrate is a soft, silty mud. Pannes in a high salt marsh are irregularly flooded by spring tides or flood tides, but the water does not drain into tidal creeks. After a panne has been flooded the standing water evaporates and the salinity of the soil water is raised well above the salinity of sea-water.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Successional blueberry heath*
    A shrubland dominated by ericaceous (heath-like) shrubs that occurs on sites with acidic soils that have been cleared (for logging, farming, etc.) or otherwise disturbed.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Successional fern meadow*
    A meadow dominated by ferns that occurs on sites that have been cleared (for logging, farming, etc.) or otherwise disturbed.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Successional old field
    A meadow dominated by forbs and grasses that occurs on sites that have been cleared and plowed (for farming or development), and then abandoned or only occasionally mowed.

Associated Species [-]
  • Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)