basic information

Short-eared Owl

Asio flammeus (Pontoppidan, 1763)

Болотная сова | Саз жапалақ

Kapchagai-Kurty road. Almaty oblast.
© Askar Isabekov


Background color of adult Short-eared Owls is very variable from pale-buff or almost white to rusty-yellow. Males usually are paler than females; young in first autumn plumage and adults in fresh plumage are darker than in outworn one. Head is with broad brownish core-streaks above. Mantle is buffy with dark broad core-streaks; outer webs of some feathers are with pale edges and with conjugate pale spots, sometimes joined to pale cross-strips. Outer webs of shoulders feathers and upperwing coverts are with white spots. There is not marble pattern as on Long-eared Owl. Primaries are rusty-buff with irregular cross-streaks and spots. Outer web of first primary is with three dark spots in male; and with six dark spots in female. Tail feathers are quit bright rusty-buff with six cross-bands 8-10 and more mm in width. Facial disc is pale with dark broad ring over eyes. Underparts are paler than mantle; and are yellowish-buff in females, males underparts are often white or slightly yellowish; with broad dark-brownish longitudinal streaks on breast and narrow on belly. Tarsus and toes feathered up to claws are pale-buff without streaks. Eyes are yellow, bill and claws are black. Young birds are dark-brownish above with buffy edges in tips. Breast is brownish, belly rusty without cross-mottles, facial disc is black-and-white. Sizes: males wing 290-312, tail 130-141, tarsus 38-41 mm, bill 14 мм; females wing 306-315, tail 132-150, tarsus 39-43, bill 14 mm. Weight 300-324 gr.


Short-eared Owl breeds in northern half of Kazakhstan (excepting Northern Trans-Balkhash area and Betpak-Dala desert), in south to lower Ural valley, Syrdarya mouth, south border of Taukum desert at Kolshengel, Kopa station and Almaty. On Southwest Altai it nests in valleys of Irtysh and Bukhtarma rivers and on Markakol lake, at Kalbinskiy Altai and also in Zaysan depression. On migration occurs also on Mangyshlak, Ustyurt and in Southern Kazakhstan, in mountains at 1500-2000 m. It winters not regular and in small numbers, in Ural valley, Northern Trans-Aral area, on Kazakh Upland, in eastern and south-eastern areas of the Republic.


Short-eared Owl is common breeding migrant, in some places it is rare resident. Short-eared Owl inhabits open landscapes; plain or hilly steppes with rare bushes, river meadows, fallow lands, and rare shrubby patches or edges of riparian forests. In spring Short-eared Owl appears in early March - April, when the lands are already mostly free from snow. It breeds in separate pairs, in years with a much numbers of field-vole Short-eared Owls nest at distance 2-3 km one nest from another. Nest is built in shallow hole under bush or grass usually; and lined with dry grass. Clutches of 4-11 eggs founded in early April - May. Female alone incubates for 24-29 days beginning from first egg; this time male feed it. Both parents care for brood. Juveniles fledge in mid-July. Autumn migration begins in August, Short-eared Owl leaves northern areas until mid-October; and southern ones up to mid-November.


Asio flammeus flammeus (Pontoppidan, 1763)


"Птицы Казахстана" том 2. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1962. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.



Asio flammeus flammeus
(Pontoppidan, 1763)

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