A short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) captured here during the day while hunting in an open field in Norway.
Hunting occurs mostly at night, but this owl is diurnal and crepuscular as well as nocturnal. Its daylight hunting seems to coincide with the high-activity periods of voles, its preferred prey. It tends to fly only feet above the ground in open fields and grasslands until swooping down upon its prey feet-first. Its food consists mainly of rodents, especially voles, but it will eat other small mammals such as mice, ground squirrels, shrews, rats, bats, muskrats and moles. It will also occasionally predate smaller birds, especially when near sea-coasts and adjacent wetlands at which time they attack shorebirds, terns and small gulls and seabirds with semi-regularity. Avian prey is more infrequently preyed on inland and centers on passerines such as larks, icterids, starlings, tyrant flycatchers and pipits. Insects supplement the diet and Short-eared Owls may prey on roaches, grasshoppers, beetles, katydids and caterpillars.
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