Short-eared owls are one of the four species of owl you might see in Scotland. They are medium sized, with mottled brown bodies, pale under-wings and bright yellow eyeswhich are very striking with their black outline! Molly Martin shares five facts to familiarise yourself with these gorgeous birds. 

Five facts about short-eared owls

1) They get their name from “ear tufts” on the side of their faces, but these actually have nothing to do with hearing, they are just tufts of feathers. We’re not quite sure what they’re there for, but it could be camouflage, to attract a mate, or to look more threatening!

owl in flight

2) Unlike other species of owl, short-ears are regularly seen flying during the day, hunting for rodent prey.

3) Short-eared owl are a common sight in Orkney, where they go by the name “catty face”, and their prey includes the endemic Orkney vole

owl swoops over field

4) Short-eared owls are found all year round in Orkney, other parts of Scotland, and Northern England, but the UK population is boosted during winter by migrants from Europe.

5) They are an Amber list species, as they are of European conservation concern.

owl perches on fence