Manitoba Bird Bird Atlas: Species At Risk

Short-eared Owl

Early Breeding and Last Migration Dates

South: Regions 1 to 8 Central: Regions 9 to 12 North: Regions 13 and 14
Early Breeding Last Migration Late Breeding Early Breeding Last Migration Late Breeding Early Breeding Last Migration Late Breeding
Apr-11 Apr-16 Jul-06 Apr-16 Apr-21 Jul-11 May-16 Jun-01 Jul-16

Breeding Evidence

Short-eared Owls nest on open ground, usually in sedges or grassy areas. They also occasionally breed in agricultural fields. In the Hudson Bay Lowlands, their nests are often found at the base of small birch or willow in coastal fen areas.

Migrant Short-eared Owls will occasionally gather in reasonably large numbers (up to 20 or more) and display, even in agricultural areas. Their display takes the form of acrobatic dives, wing fluttering and wing clapping. Although multiple displaying birds can be coded as D (display probable breeding), in early April care is required not to code migrants that are displaying only briefly in an area where the species does not breed.


Breeding Evidence Map

Short-eared Owls make use of a wide variety of open habitats, including arctic tundra, grasslands, peat bogs, marshes, sand-sage concentrations, and old pastures.

Preferred nesting sites are dense grasslands, as well as tundra with areas of small willows. While Short-eared Owls have a marked preference for open spaces, the main factor influencing the choice of its local habitat is believed to be the abundance of food: especially meadow voles in the south and collared lemmings in the north. Spring concentrations of Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Harriers are positive indicators of rodent abundance and, therefore, of the presence of Short-eared Owls.

In Manitoba, they breed mainly in southern farmland and northern tundra. In the boreal plains, they are sparsely distributed and breed in extensive marshes and fens.

-from COSEWIC and The Birds of Manitoba (p. 235)