Reader Tom C. sent along some of his owl photos which arrived too late for our recent OwlFest. But they’re lovely pictures, so I’ll post herewith his snaps of Aseo flammeus and his captions (click to enlarge).
Short-eared Owl at sunset: stretchin’, to get ready for some killin’… and eatin’. (Cape Vincent, NY)
(Oh, and I love this sentence about them from Wikipedia: “In Scotland this species of owl is often referred to as a cataface, grass owl or short-horned hootlet.” Short-horned hootlet!)
Also Short-eared Owl(s) from Cape Vincent NY. These images, plus the stretching bird, are all from the same late February afternoon.
This species is a communal rooster as you can see on the right!
Below, this bird is a bit agitated (short “ears,” but erected):
(JAC: Wikipedia says:
Owls belonging to genus Asio are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These “ear” tufts may or may not be visible. Asio flammeus will display its tufts when in a defensive pose. However, its very short tufts are usually not visible.
and this, instantiated by the bird below:
The yellow-orange eyes of A. flammeus are exaggerated by black rings encircling each eye, giving the appearance of them wearing Mascara, and large, whitish disks of plumage surrounding the eyes like a mask.)
According to The Owl Pages, their courtship displays are stupendous:
Courtship and territorial behaviour is spectacular for an Owl. Males perform aerial displays by rising quickly with rhythmic and exaggerated wing beats, hovering, gliding down, and rising again, often 200 to 400 meters (650 to 1,300 feet) above ground. Wing claps, in bursts of 2 to 6 per second, are often made during this flight and some singing occurs. The flight can be ended with a spectacular descent where the male hold his wings aloft and shimmies rapidly to the ground. Two birds may engage in flight, locking talons, and fighting briefly.
These owls occur in both the New and Old Worlds; here’s their range map:
And a nice video: