Short eared owl (Asio flammeus)
It is the nocturnal raptor with the more diurnal habits. It can reach a length of 41 cm, with a wingspread of 1m and a weight of 400g. It is characterized by the whitish color of its facial disk, yellow eyes and short tufts, sometimes almost imperceptible. It has tarsus feathered to the toes and black nails.
In the field it can be confused with Long Eared Owl (Asio otus), although its semidiurnal habits, at least during the breeding season, and the fact that flies in wide open areas, help identification. Besides the wings have a sharper appearance and its flight is more like butterflies’.
It rests and hunts in open areas (mainly crops), especially those with boundaries between crops, which provide them some coverage to rest and are rich in small mammals.
Status y distribution
Usually nests in central and northern Europe, being in the Peninsula and the islands usually during the winter or during migration. Their distribution is then determined by the density of prey. On the peninsula is increasing the number breeding pairs recorded.
Completely dependent on high densities of small mammals, it hunts in the late afternoon on clear areas by glides and rests on the ground in tall grass areas.
Composed primarily of voles (Microtus sp.) and mice (Mus sp.) but does not disdain small birds.
The breeding season, the place chosen and lay size are strongly influenced by the abundance of prey.
It breeds in open countryside, nestling in a small depression in the ground protected by tall grass or reeds, similarly to the eaglets. Also nests inside heathland.
The lay is very variable, with an average of 7-8 eggs laid at intervals of 24h and incubate around 26 days. Sometimes they have huge lays (up to 13 eggs). Chicks, showing fast growth, leave the nest after 15 days, still without feathers, and parents still feeding them. The first flights occur after 24-27 days.
(Red Book of Birds in Spain)
Of Special Interest (National Catalog of Threatened Species of Spain)