Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Above and below seven: Photos taken during a wonderful late afternoon at Irish Grove, Somerset County, Maryland (12/12/2004). There were at least three, but perhaps as many at six, Short-eared Owls hunting actively over the marsh. In addition to fantastic looks, Stan Arnold and I were delighted to watch the Short-eared Owls engage in dogfights with Northern Harriers and to hear them make their "yelpy-dog" vocalizations. I can hardly think of a better way to end a day than to spend a winter sunset out on the marsh with the Short-eared Owls.

Engaged in a dogfight with a male Northern Harrier at shift change.

And the winner is...

Below: Jim Brighton and I flushed this early migrant Short-eared Owl near the Patuxent River in P.G. Co., Maryland (11/1/2008). Although this isn't the best angle, I decided to include it for plumage details.

Comments:  This beautiful owl nests in Alaska, much of northern Canada, and some parts of southern Canada and the northern U.S. There is also a resident population in the western U.S. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, Short-eared Owls are welcome winter residents (and rare nesters) that can be found hunting low over marshlands at sunset - or sometimes, as seen above, quite a bit earlier.

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