Nature Champions: Short-eared Owl

(c) Sandra Graham

The Short-eared Owl is a medium sized owl and one of the few owl species that hunt both during the day and during the night. In the UK, Short-eared Owls breed in upland habitat in Scotland and northern England. Short-eared Owls are nomadic, and can move large distances between breeding locations. Many Short-eared Owls from the Nordic countries and Russia spend their winter in the UK, and they can then be seen hunting for small mammals over lowland and coastal marshes. The Short-eared Owl is an Amber Listed species in the UK. Ornithologists estimate that the UK have between 620 and 2,180 breeding pairs of Short-eared Owls, which is around 7% of the European population.

Action Needed

  • Support increased monitoring of the species during the breeding season, so that breeding success, survival and movements can be estimated. 
  • Support identification and protection of wintering areas.
  • Support strong measures to tackle wildlife crime to discourage illegal persecution.
  • Ensure the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy is fully implemented.


Deterioration and loss of breeding habitat, eg. by afforestation

Deterioration and loss of wintering habitat eg. by development on land deemed as ‘unproductive’.

Illegal persecution and nest destruction.

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