short-eared owl defined in 1930 yearshort-eared owl - Short-eared Owl;
short-eared owl - Face whitish; beak black; iris yellow; tufts on the head small, composed of black feathers; eyes encircled by brownish black; upper parts dusky brown edged with yellow; under parts dull yellow streaked with brown. Length, fifteen inches.
In its habits the short-eared owl offers a strong contrast to the species last described. It is a bird of the moors and fens, laying its eggs on the ground, and never, or very seldom, perches on trees. In appearance it is less owl-like and uncanny-looking than the long- eared owl, the colouring and markings being less rich, the head smaller, and the ear-tufts so small that at a distance of twenty-five yards they are scarcely visible. It is migratory in its habits, and as it arrives on the east coast at the same time as the woodcock, it is often called the woodcock-owl.
As a winter visitant it is found in most places in the British Islands, but it breeds with us only in Scotland and a few localities in the north of England. As I have said in the history of the barn-owl, the present species ranges over a large portion of the globe, and on the continent of America it is found from Greenland to the Straits of Magellan. It is not so nocturnal in its habits as the majority of owls, and may often be seen, an hour or two before sunset, beating over the rough ground like a hen harrier in search of prey. It feeds on small rodents of all kinds, and on birds. The eggs are three to five in number, and in some instances as many as seven or eight are laid, and are placed in a slight clearing among the herbage on marshy ground, or under the heather on a moor.
There is some variety in the language of this species: it hisses and makes a sharp clicking sound when angry, and has a loud, startling cry, a note repeated three or four times, like a ghostly laugh; and it also hoots, this performance sounding like the baying of a dog in the distance.
An interesting and curious fact in the history of this owl is that it is known to appear, often in considerable numbers, in any district where, owing to a great increase of field-mice or other small rodents, its favourite food is for the time abundant. This phenomenon has been observed in various parts of the world, in this country on several occasions; and during the late great plague of short-tailed voles in the south of Scotland (1891-92), large numbers of short-eared owls appeared, and remained to breed in the district. As long as the plague lasted they remained in the country, and were most prolific. When the voles disappeared the owls departed.
near short-eared owl in Knolik
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