Short-Eared Owl

Asio flammeus
Strigidae (typical owls) in the order Strigiformes (owls)

Medium-sized, yellow-eyed, heavily streaked with pale and dark browns above, and buff-white below with heavy dark streaks. The short ear tufts are difficult to see. In flight, note the buff patch on the outer part of the upper side of the wing, and a dark crescent near the bend of the wing on the underside. Its characteristic flight is buoyant and butterfly-like as it flies across open fields close to the ground.  Voice is varied with barks (like a small dog), hoots, squeaks and hissing sounds--although it is usually silent on wintering grounds in Missouri.

Length: 15 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail); wingspan: 3 1/2 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Open grasslands, especially native prairie. Roosts on the ground or in low bushes. Commonly active during day, especially in early morning and late afternoon, as well as at night. With careful searching you may discover a roost with up to 20 or more individuals in a ravine, in a thicket, among large hay bales, or in a dry grassy watercourse.
Mice, rats, rabbits, gophers, lemmings, insects and occasionally birds. Hunts while flying low over grasslands, with a mothlike flight.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Uncommon winter resident and migrant. Extremely rare summer resident in the Glaciated Plains, Osage Plains and Mississippi Lowlands. In Missouri, a Species of Conservation Concern, for its declining numbers.
Life cycle: 
Nests on ground, and thought to nest formerly in Missouri. The ground nest sites are easily disturbed by haying or grazing, which may be the reason this species no longer nests in Missouri.
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