Treasures from Our West
One of the world’s most widely distributed owls, the short-eared owl is a ground-nesting species that inhabits open landscapes throughout much of North America and Eurasia. It also breeds in South American grasslands and on islands such as Iceland, the Hawaiian chain, and the Galapagos. In the Greater Yellowstone region, it is a year-round resident of grasslands and sagebrush-steppe. Active day and night, this owl flies close to the ground while hunting mice, voles (small rodents), and ground squirrels.
Short-eared owl populations have declined through much of the United States, and it is rarely seen even by experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Natural history museum specimens help document changes in the distribution of species such as the short-eared owl. This specimen was collected in 1905 near Waterford, New York, but is fully representative of members of its species found in the Greater Yellowstone region. It came to the Buffalo Bill Museum in 1960 with a large collection of taxidermy mounts inventoried by curator Richard “Dick” Frost. This specimen was identified and cataloged by Draper Natural History Museum staff in 2007 and installed in the Draper’s Plains/Basin Environment early in 2008.
Short-eared owl. Scientific name Asio flammeus. DRA.304.18