Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus (Pontoppidan, 1763) in Russia

Abstracts of all work published in Russian

Realized by Jevgeni Shergalin

Sazonov, S.V. 1993. Otryad sovy [Order Strigiformes] // Ornitofauna Karelii [Ornithofauna of Karelia]. Petrozavodsk, Institute of Biology, Institute of Forest. Pp.98-103. In Russian.

155. Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus (Pontopp.). Pp.101-102

Comparatively common species, whose number, however, is a subject to sufficient fluctuations. It is spread throughout entire territory of Republic of Karelia, in northern regions occurs much more rare and is found in the White Sea area near Pon’goma and Vir’ma villages, in vicinities of Voinitsa settlement, near northern border of “Kostomukshskiy” Nature Reserve, on the shore f Lubozero Lake shore [161, 175]. Extreme dates of discovery are within limits of south Karelia – 11.04 – 4.11, for the vicinities of Voknavolok in the north the latest date is given – 25.11.42 [161].
The SEO breeds on bogs with the most productive peat fallow lands (of lowland and transitional type), clearly avoiding peat bog massifs. In the middle and northern Karelia the species distribution is closely connected with aapa-bogs. It settles also on the plots of open river floodlands and swamped meadows on the banks of lakes, and in Pribelomor’ye [the White Sea region] – on extensive coastal meadows. Meliorative measures don’t affect considerable influence on nest-suitable quality of habitats, the Short-eared Owl occurs as on partly drained bogs (forest-melioration with rare network of ditches), as on the peat bogs, completely transformed under agricultural lands.
The nesting density – mainly low, 0,5-1,0 pair / 1000 ha of the nest-suitable habitats, however in the separate years it is increasing at many times. So, for example, on Shuiskie fields near Petrozavodsk, where usually from 2-3 to 4-5 pairs breed, in 1986 12 pairs nested (density – 4 pairs / 1000 ha), and owls settles in this year not only on the plots of extra moistened (wet) habitats or drained peat bogs, but also on “zaluzhennoi” (transforming into meadow) ploughed field in waterless valley.
The SEO breeding success on agricultural lands is extremely low (loss of nests and broods during taking care of crops, during mowing of silo, during hay-mowing on meadows). A bigger part of population is reproducing on the marginal (lateral) plats of agrolandscape (fallow lands and waste grounds, extremely overmoistened microhabitats outside the main massif of agricultural areas), and also within limits of natural nesting habitats.


Kostin, Yu.V. 1983. Ptitsy Kryma [Birds of the Crimea]. Moscow, Nauka Press. 240 p. In Russian.

174. Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus (Pontopp.). Pp.139-140

The Short-eared Owl – breeding, passage and wintering bird. However the character of presence, dates and peculiarities of migrations in considerable extent depend on total number of birds that is extremely variable in different years.
The dates of the spring passage and departure from wintering grounds are known poorly. I could record the departure of owls, which wintered near Portovoe settlement, in 1971 and 1973: 16-18.III, 19.III respectively, though 15-17.III 1973 the Short-eared Owls were still common. The birds arriving for wintering in the case of food abundance stay at one site for a long time, sometimes during entire winter. The autumn appearance sometimes is observing already in August, with swing of the passage in September. There are the years with very late passage. So, in 1965 near Lebyazhi Islands these birds appeared only 19.XI.
Under high number the Short-eared Owl inhabits majority of open habitats in the steppe part and even in foothills, under low number becomes sporadic. In 1959-1962 the Short-eared Owl was common, and at certain sites even numerous bird in nesting time almost everywhere in the steppe. At the end of June-July the Short-eared Owl broods, soared over field in day-time, were sighted almost constantly. At the same years the Short-eared Owl was common on the passage and wintering. In subsequent years the number of breeding owls has fallen down sharply, and in 1966-1967 during excursions in the steppe part of the Crimea we did not meet Short-eared Owl at all. There are years, when, being little-numbered on nesting, the Short-eared Owl becomes common in autumn and on wintering, that was observed in 1965, 1971 and 1973.
In the years with high number it breeds (judging by observations in summer) on the virgin plots of steppe, in cereals and in near-water habitats.
Senitskiy [1898a] has found nest with 4 incubated eggs 18.V. I have captured badly flying young Short-eared Owl on the Black Sea coast near Portovoe settlement 29.VI.1960. Broods consisted of 4-6 birds.
Wintering Short-eared Owls stay, as a rule, near large colonies of the common Voles, which is mainly its food. That is confirmed by analysis of 174 pellets, gathered 26.IV.1971 in the steppe near Opuk mountain. The Common Vole made up 77,9% by occurrence and 86,4% by frequency of eating, the Grey Dwarf Hamster respectively 6,1 and 4,0%, Steppe Mouse – 7,5 and 4,8%, Wood Mouse – 5,6 and 3,0%; meetings of birds and shrews are single (0,47 and 0,95%).


Numerov, A.D., Priklonskiy, S.G., Ivanchev, V.P., Kotyukov, Yu.V., Kashentseva, T.A., Markin, Yu.M., Postel’nykh, A.V. 1995. Kladki i razmery yaits ptits yugo-vostoka Meshcherskoi nizmennosti [Clutches and sizes of bird eggs of the South-East of the Meshchera Lowland]. Trudy Okskogo gos. biosf. zapovednika [Proc. of Oka State Biosphere Nature Reserve]. Issue 18. M., TCNIL Glavokhoty Press. 168 p. In Russian.

Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus Pont. P.66

Rare species. Nest with 5 eggs was found 23.5.1944 near Kochemary village in Kasimovskiy district (Ptushenko, Inozemtsev, 1968). Two nests with chicks were found 23.5.1968 near Tyshlovo k. (1 live and 2 dead) and 18.6.1954, on the left bank of Oka River near Kopanovo settlement (3 chicks). In collection one egg is keeping (38,6×32,4).


Gerasimov, Yu.N., Sal’nikov, G.M., Buslaev, S.V. 2000. Ptitsy Ivanovskoi oblasti [Birds of Ivanovo Region]. Moscow, Kamchatka Institute of Ecology and Nature Management. 126 p. In Russian.

122. Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus. Pp.50-51

The Short-eared Owl – common breeding species. Inhabits wet meadows and shrub thickets in river floodlands and along fields. Breeding pair number depends on rodent number. In 1956, when there was high number of mouse-looking rodents, M.A.Bubnov (1968) has found 6 nests of the Short-eared Owls on the plot, where 2-3 pairs nested in previous years. In Zavolzhskiy district the high number of breeding Short-eared Owls was recorded in 1986.
In 1934, 1953-1957 arrival of the Short-eared Owls was registered 16-22, in the average – 19 April (Bubnov, 1958). In 1981 we have noted the first birds 19 April.
The nest with four fresh eggs was discovered 9 May 1934. Clutch of 8 eggs was found 17 May 1953, chicks fledged from this nest 14 June. Another clutch of 8 eggs was discovered 20 May 1953. The nest with 7 chicks of various age was found 3 June 1953l; two adult chicks were recorded during investigation of this nest 10 June; chicks have left this nest 12-13 June. The nest with 7 chicks of various age and addled egg was discovered 9 June 1953. During investigation of nest 10 June, in it five chicks were remained, which finally have left the nest by 17 June (Bubnov, 1958). The SEO fledglings were registered by us since 3 till 30 June 1986.
The nests are locating on the ground, one of nests was found in the hay stack. There are up to 9 eggs in clutch. Near nest and chicks adult birds in the case of danger express the strong disturbance, try to distract attention by strong sound, wing flapping, by loud cries similar to cat’s call. Male intensively distracts, dragging wings on the ground. The Short-eared Owls near nest can attack even man (Bubnov, 1958).
The departure of the main mass of birds is observing in September, however the SEO occurs during all October round. The separate specimens winter. M.A.Bubnov (1958) observed the SEO pair during long time in winter 1935, one of them was shot in January. The single specimen was sighted by us 17 January in Rodnikovskiy district.


Abdusalyamov, I.A. 1971. Fauna Tadzhikskoi SSR [Fauna of Tajik SSR]. Vol. XIX. Part 1. Ptitsy [Birds]. Dushanbe, Donish Press. 403 p. In Russian.

Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus flammeus Pontopp. P.344

The SEO for Tajikistan is considering as passage bird, and for valleys of Vakhsh, Pyandzh, Kafirnigan, Zerafshan and Syr-Daria Rivers – wintering bird. SEO winters regularly, but in small number, as well as in Gissar valley (Ivanov, 1949). In mountain regions (Gissaro-Karategin, Popov, 1959) appears since the first dates of September and passage continues till the end of September. Since October and till the first decade of March at all sites suitable for wintering the SEO can be met. A.I.Ivanov (1940) gives data on bagging SEO even 16 April, but this bird most probably belongs to the delayed specimens. The SEO winters on banks of artificial water bodies and artificial irrigation systems with high one-year vegetation. The wintering SEO can raise in the foothill zone too, especially in those regions, where in a number the rodents live. The wintering SEO was shot by us 9 December in Dangara region. The passage SEOs often penetrate onto cotton fields, where the plant stems (guzapoi) remain unharvested until spring. On wintering the SEO says as by single specimens as by small groups of 3-4 birds. Great concentrations within borders of republic were not observed.
Still A.I.Ivanov (1940) pointed at baseless of the statement by N.A.Zarudnyi and S.I.Bil’kevich (1918) concerning nesting, even possible residence of the SEO for the valley of upper stream of Amu-Darya River. The subsequent researches of ornithologists of Tajikistan have confirmed the correctness of opinion of A.I.Ivanov, – they did not register the SEO on nesting in Tajikistan.


Loskutova, N.M. 1985. Khishchnye ptitsy i sovy Bashkirskogo zapovednika [Birds of Prey and Owls of the Bashkirian Nature Reserve] // Khishchnye ptitsy i sovy v zapovednikakh RSFSR [Birds of prey and owls in nature reserves of the RSFSR]. Moscow, CNIL Glavokhoty Press. Pp.45-58. In Russian.

Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus Pontopp. P.55

For Bashkirian Nature Reserve the SEO is a rare species. Earlier it was recorded by S.V.Kirikov (1952), which considers SEO as rare breeding species. M.M.Tvorogova (1960) mentions about SEO nest. In 1983 its breeding was registered on Uraltau of Uzyanskiy plot. The nest location is typical for the owl: not far from brook valley near large meadow glade, on the ground under broom shrub, on the steep eastern slope of the ridge, lowering in the brook valley. Clutch consisted of 6 eggs, the fifth of which was laid 20 May. Two younger chicks were perished, their remains were found near nest. At the age of two weeks the chicks already left the nest and hid in neighbourhood. The nesting dates coincide with the data by S.I.Snigirevskiy (1941). In the pellets, found near nest, among 19 identified remains of the mouse-looking rodents 13 consisted of Wood Voles and 6 – Grey Voles.


Graubitz, G. 1983. Bolotnaya sova [The Short-eared Owl] // Ptitsy Latvii. Territorial’noe razmeshchenie i chislennost’ [Birds of Latvia. Territorial distribution and number]. Riga, Zinatne. Pp.121-122. In Russian.

Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus Pont. Pp.121-122

Breeding, migratory, wintering species.
In review on birds of the region since the start of ornithological studies the SEO is mentioning as bird, breeding on bogs, in shrub thickets on meadows and in similar place. In Latvia in XIX century [Loewis, 1893], and also in the first half of XXth century among owls by number it occupied the second place (following Tawny Owl) [Transehe, Sinats, 1936; Transehe, 1965]. At the present time, supposedly, in connection with wide melioration the SEO number strongly was reduced; at least, it occurs more seldom than the Tawny Owl and Long-eared Owl.
The SEO stay for wintering in small number, about which still W.Russow wrote [Russow, 1880]. In literature there are concrete years of the increased its number – this is autumn 1900 and winter 1903/1904 [Stoll, 1904]. Besides that, some authors point at great fluctuations by years [Taurinsh, Vilks, 1949].


Danilov, N.N., Ryzhanovskiy, V.N., Ryabitsev, V.K. 1984. Ptitsy Yamala [Birds of Yamal Peninsula]. Moscow, Nauka. 334 p. In Russian.

Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus Pont. Pp.121-122

The SEO breeds everywhere in Southern and Middle Yamal. The northernmost known finding of the nest – lower parts of Yasaveiyakhi River in the west of peninsula (Zhitkov, 1912). Probably, the SEO breeds up to latitude of Seayakha settlement, where it was sighted by B.M.Zhitkov on Seyakha-Mutnaya River, was registered by us several times in 1975 on Seyakha-Zelenaya and in 1976 in Marre-Sala. Northwards we did not observe it, but vagrant records are possible. Together with breeding specimens, gravitating to own plots, the nomadic birds can be sighted too. The SEOs were the most commonest in river valleys, on laidas, the hunting specimens were sighted in different types of tundra. Number is changing considerably in dependence on rodent abundance. According to data by V.V.Kucheruk with co-authors (1975), in the case of the mass breeding of lemmings in 1973 on Shchuch’ya River the density in stationary plots was 0,2 and 0,3 breeding pair per 1 sq km, in “erniks” (vegetation community consisting of different dwarf birch species) it reached 2,4 pair, and in willow thickets on the banks of rivers, lakes and streams – 3,7. In the same year near Khadyta factoria three pairs stayed at 2-4 km each from other. During route counts on the watershed tundras in 1970-1973 it was not sighted. In 1977, when there were many voles in the river floodlands, and lemmings were absent practically, the SEOs were common and all of them hunted in the floodland. In 1974, 1975 and 1979 they were sighted seldom. In 1979 at the end of May and beginning of June they appeared in a number, but part of them was exhausted so strongly, judging by those captured by trap. In summer they were sighted very seldom.
Arrival was recorded in the second half of May – beginning of June: in early spring 1979 near Yat-Sala 18 may, in late spring 1971 – 9 June, in 1975 near Salekhard they appeared 25 May, and on Cape Kamennyi – 4 June. In autumn, if rodents were presented, the SEOs stayed till the second half of September. Near Yar-Sala in 1972 the last time was observed 19 September.
Data on breeding are fragmentary. All found nests were represented by the pit, trampled down without any litter. In the nest, found by V.I.Osmolovskaya 20 July 1941 on Shchuch’ya River, there were 5 eggs, the first chick hatched 22 July, and 6 August there were 5 chicks with weight from 89 to 205 g. B.M.Zhitkov (data is not indicated) has found the nest with 9 chicks, among them the younger was just hatched, and elder chicks were already feathered. In the owl, trapped 14 June 1979 on permanent study area Ktyabrskiy near Labytnangi, the brooding patch was covering by feathers, the bird was strongly exhausted. The owl, trapped 17 June, had well developed brooding patch. On Kharp stationary 27 June 1973 the nest with 9 eggs was found. In the last dates of July in it only two addled eggs remained. Three chicks of various age, still non-flying chicks were discovered not far from this point, another two hicks, also non-flying, but bigger, were found at 200 m from the first three owlets (Fig.36).
According to V.I.Osmolovskaya (1948), 91,2% of the pellets composition consisted of rodents – Siberian Arctic Lemmings and Siberian Lemmings, Grey Voles. The part of birds made up 11,8% of records, among them 5,8% – Passerines; egg-shell was found. Weight of two trapped at the middle of June owls was 348 and 296 g, wing 325 and 310 mm. In the owl, trapped 6 June the remiges were moulting.


Nikiforov, M.E., Kozulin, A.V., Grichik, V.V., Tishechkin, A.K. 1997. Ptitsy Belarusi na rubezhe XXI veka [Birds of Belarus at the edge of the XXth century]. Status, chislennost’, rasprostranenie [Status, number, distribution]. Minsk, N.A.Korolev Publisher. 188p. SEO on p.71.

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
Byelorussian name – Balotnaya sava

Status: rare breeding migratory and wintering in insignificant number in the separate years species.

Distribution: Throughout the territory.

Natural habitats: lowland bogs and swamped meadows, more seldom fields of many-year grasses, especially on meliorated territories.

Number assessment: 500-1500 pairs.

National status of conservation: II category of RDB of Republic of Belarus.


Ishunin, G.I., Soldatova, N.V. 1983. Pitanie bolotnoi sovy na zimovke v Yuzhnom Kyzylkume [The Short-eared Owl feeding on wintering grounds in KyzylKumy, Uzbekistan] // Ornitologiya [Ornithology]. Moscow, Moscow Univ. Press. Vol.18. Pp.196-197. In Russian.

In the Central Asia the SEO can be sighted on the passage and wintering. In Uzbekistan we have discovered this owl wintering in Southern Kyzyl-Kumys in the territory of the Bucharian jeiran (Goitred Gazelle) breeding centre, at 12 km south of Kagan.
The SEOs fly out for hunting in evening, but still in day-light time. They trapped out own prey in sandy knolls (jirds, jerboas), the grass thickets on worthless and cultivating lands, and also on the banks of AmuBucharian Channel and aryks (Libyan Jird, House Mouse, Lesser Shrew) and in local settlements (House Mouse, tree Sparrow). In the SEO feeding the nocturnal animals make up about 73% of records. The food composition is shown in Table. In overwhelming majority of cases (up to 67% of records) for the day nutrition of the SEO it’s enough to bag (capture) one-two House Mice or jird with House Mouse, or one Sparrow. More rich (abundant) prey happens seldom. Other food objects have secondary significance (Lesser Shrew, small birds from Passerines) or carry occasional character (jerboas and Yellow Souslik (Ground Squirrel), Northern Mole Vole), they serve only addendum, and sometimes – replacement of the common ration. In 1978 they were situated on wintering till the second half of March. 13/III in ravine up to 40 specimens were counted in ravine, 16/III – only 10, 26/III the last owl was registered.


The Short-eared Owl pellets contents (have been collected 10-28/III 1978)

Insectivorus (Lesser Shrew)
House Mouse
Yellow Souslik (Ground Squirrel)
Northern Mole Vole
Tree Sparrow
Small of Passerines


Estaf’yev, A.A. 1999. Bolotnaya sova [The Short-eared Owl]. // Fauna Evropeiskogo Severo-Vostoka Rossii [Fauna of the European N-E of Russia]. Ptitsy [Birds]. Nevorob’inye [Non-Passerines]. St.-Petersburg, “Nauka” Press. Pp.68-73.

Status. Breeding migratory species

Sizes and weight: Wing length of males (n=3) in September – 318,3 (310-325) mm, tail – 160 (155-165), tarsus (n=1) – 51, bill (n=1) – 26 mm; feathers of female wing at the end of August – September (n=3) – 309.3 (308-310) mm, tail – 146.3 (142-152), tarsus – 50.3 (46-56), bill – 25.6 (25-26) mm. Males body weight (n=3) in September – 312.5 (293-343.5), female – 310 g (data by A.A.Estaf’yev, K.K.Demetriades). In Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserves the male body weight (without date of bagging) – 311, and female – 250 g (Teplova, 1957).
In chick, left the nest (region of Ukhta town, Chib’yu River, 1981), remiges were opened from sheaths at 1/3, in the chick in the nest – at ¼ length of the adult feather’s length. In the vicinities of Ukhta town (1985) 20 June in elder chick the remiges only were opened from sheaths (5-7 mm) (data by K.K.Demetriades). 15 July 1956 from Shezhim cordon in the upper part of Pechora River the “semi-feathered” chick was sighted (Teplova, 1957). In young male from lower part of Vadma River (*Lyzha River basin, Pechorskiy administrative district, 1959) 5 September the feathers of thigh and shin have not been grown up to ½, a number pf feathers of vent were in sheaths and reached half, and feathers of body sides – quarter of adult feather’s length. In young male from the middle stream of Vadma River 10 September 1959 the feathers of upper side of head did not reach the 1/3rd part of adult feather, on the neck and breast only single feathers were in sheaths, and rest reached size of adult feather; on the back and on shoulders reached ½-1/3, feathers of vent – ¼ of size of adult feather. On sides of body and tarsus they reached half, on toes – 2/3 size of adult feather. 28 August 1930 in adult male from the vicinities of Kos’-ya-vom settlement the small feathers of upper side of body did not reach the length of adult feather (Dmokhovskiy, 1933).
In young female 25 September 1968 from Kydz’ras’yu River (bagging from flock of 9 birds) the moult mainly was finished, though incompletely grown feathers of contour plumage were represented still (Estaf’yev, 1977).
In adult female from the vicinities of Pomozdino settlement “the feathering replacement” went on the head” (Dmokhovskiy, 1933), and in female from lower parts of Sysola Rivers 20 October 1959 the separate feathers on back and sacrum were still in sheaths, the small contour feathers on wing hardly jutted out from sheaths, on the body side there were incompletely grown feathers.
Hence, both adult and young birds fly from the breeding region without completion of moult. That is a good conformance with data on the finalization of moult of the Short-eared Owls in November (Dement’yev, 1951).
Subspecies systematics: By coloration of feathering and by sizes all investigated exemplars (n=9) belong to the subspecies A.flammeus flammeus Pontopp.
Distribution: The SEO widely is spread throughout the region. In the north it penetrates on nesting sites: Kanin Peninsula – up to Chizh River (Dement’yev, 1935), to Konushin Cape, to Zolotnitsa, Koida, Semzha settlements (1955-1956) (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1958); lower reaches of Pechora River – to Abramovo village (66’41 N.L.) (Brown, 1877), to Pechora R. delta (Bianki, Krasnov, 1987); Bolshezemel’skaya tundra – to island of the spruce forest at the middle stream of More-Yu River (Estaf’yev, Mineev, 1983); Yugorskiy Peninsula – to Krestovyi Cape (Uspenskiy, 1965), to Lymbadayaga River (1984), to Nau-to Lake (1982, data by A.A.Estaf’yev) at 18 km to the west of Ust’-Kara settlement. V.N.Kalyakin (1989) gives the data on finding (1983) of two nests of the Short-eared Owls on Yugor Peninsula without indication of exact place of their location. Judging by the map-scheme, given by him, that is probably the north-western part of Peninsula.
In the mountains of Northern Ural the SEO penetrates into mountains on nesting up to 600-800 m a.s.l. (data of A.A.Estaf’yev).
As a whole the SEO is spread sporadically. It avoids the solid dark-coniferous forests.
Migrations: In the zone of taiga in spring the single and pair birds fly mainly over floodlands of rivers, more often occur on meadows, ploughed lands, on maps of the meliorated peat bogs and on marshes. Along Uralian mountains they fly in northern direction along great marsh massifs and floodlands of the mountain rivers. Beginning of arrival is registered in the lower parts of Izhma Rivers (1972, 64 N.L.) – 12 May, in upper parts of Pechora River – 12-30 May (1965-1967), northwards, at the middle stream of Bolshaya Synya River – 21 May (1968-1970), in upper reaches of this river (cis-Polar Ural, 65 N.L.) – 16-21 May (1968-1974) (Estaf’yev, 1982). The earliest date of their appearance in Pechoro-Ilych Nature Reserves in the period since 1980 till 1992 – 9 May 1990 (data by N.D.Neifeldt). In the vicinities of Ukhta town (judging by found by K.K.Demetriades clutch of 4 unincubated eggs) – till 20 May (1975). On Kanin Peninsula the birds were send near Semzha settlement 31 May and 1 June 1957 (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1958). In Yugor Peninsula the first single birds and three birds on passage were seen by A.A.Estaf’yev in the region of Nau-to Lake, westwards Usat’-Kara settlement, 7 June 1982. Hence, in different years the SEOs arrive in the region since the middle till the end of May.
The autumn departure from the zone of tundra goes before formation of the snow cover. In the zone of taiga the bird passage is registered in the following regions: basin of rovers Severnaya Mylva and Ilych – 8-20 October (1965-1967), Bol’shaya Synya River – not earlier 25 September (1968-1970), in the mountains – 3 September (1968-1974) (Estaf’yev, 1982).
Birds were sighted as single, as well in groups (up to 9 specimens), adult birds with chicks (Estaf’yev, 1977). Within borders of the Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve the SEOs were seen mainly in August-October (Teplova, 1957). The latest date of records in the period since 1980 till 1992 in Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve – 19 September 1989 (data by N.D.Neifeldt). In Vychegda R. basin and Luza River the last birds were recorded until 20-25 October (data by A.A.Estaf’yev).
In the European part of the breeding range the SEO departure to the wintering grounds (Middle Asia, Mediterranean Sea, north of Africa) goes since August and lasts in October, while the spring passage since the end of March – April (Priklonskiy, 1993b).
Natural habitats: On the plain in the taiga zone it is common in rare-standing floodland birch woods or mixed spruce-birch forests with willow shrubs, alternating with the floodland meadows, more seldom in green-moss swamped suppressed pine woods (Don-ty Lake, middle reach of Vychegda River, 1988-1996). Usually it is common also on moss tussocky bogs with willow shrubs and dwarf birch, including drained, on meliorative maps of the draining peat bogs. SEO prefers to place nests on the edges of bogs. According to Dmokhovskiy (1933), in upper Vychegda River in 1930 the SEO occurred at sites, where the forest was cut through by glades; in Pechora River basin the SEO was rare in the region of the solid forest, more often in tundra and numerous in the forest-tundra.
In the foothills of Cis-Polar Ural (Bol’shaya Synya River basin, 1972) the SEO inhabits the floodland meadows with scarce shrubs (willow, Blue honeysuckle (Estaf’yev, 1977). According to Portenko (1937), the SEO can occur in tundras of the Northern Ural. A.A. Estaf’yev has found the SEO family on the upper border of sparse forest (about 650 m a.s.l.) amidst plots of low abies tree on Man’-Pupuner mountain; M.A.Zaplatin – in “subgolets” belt of Yana-Pupuner mountain and in mountain shrub tundra within limits of Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve (data by N.D.Neifeldt), also on the fields near Shezhim cordon in Verkhnyaya [Upper] Pechora [Teplova, 1957].
In Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve in 1980-1992 the nesting plots were found only in the years of maximal number of the microtine rodents (1985, 1989). They were situated on the large near-river meadows (2), in mountain shrub tundra (2) and on the peat Carex-Sphagnum marsh (1) (data by N.D.Neifeldt).
On the eastern shore of the White Sea the SEO inhabits open bogs in the forest zone, sparse woods and tundra (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1958); in Vorkuta vicinities and in Pechora River delta – meadow plots on the banks of brooks and lakes (Gladkov, 1962; Bianki, Krasnov, 1987); on Yugor Peninsula – Sphagnum-moss tundra also in neighbourhood from Nau-to Lake (data by A.A.Estaf’yev): in the region of the forest island at the middle stream of More-Yu River – the plots of the moss-lichen tundra in the presence of water bodies (Estaf’yev, Mineev, 1983).
Number: Within borders of the breeding range of A.f.flammeus the population density of the species varies within limits 0.07-0.37 pairs per 1000 ha (Priklonskiy, 1993b). In the region it varies from 0.04 to 1.3 spec. per 1 sq km, in the mountains of the northern part of Urals – 0.07-0.14 spec. per 1 sq km. In the south-taiga abies-spruce forests (Perm Region) on different plots the number of pairs per 100 sq km was within limits 1.1-2.2, in the average 1.6; in the middle-taiga abies-spruce forests – within limits 1.0-2.2; in the mountain-taiga abies-spruce forests – within limits 1.2-2.4 (Shepel’, 1992). Northwards (near 62 N.L.) in the middle subzone of taiga in Vychegda River basin on bogs of transitional type near Don-ty Lake (1988-1996) the population density reached 0.34 spec. (1989), here in the birch sparse forest of the floodlands of the bog rivers – 1.0 spec. per 1 sq km (196); near 64 N.L. in the subzone the density at the middle part of Pechora R. basin – 0.14 (1966-1967), in the Izhma R. basin – 0.34 (1972), Kedva River – 0.6 (1972), Severnaya [Northern] Mylva – 1.0 (1965) spec. per 1 sq km (data by A.A.Estaf’yev).
In Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve in the breeding period the SEOs were sighted the most often (1980-1982) in the mountain (Northern Ural) and foothill regions – 17, in the plain – 1 record (data by N.D.Neifeldt).
On the western slope of cis-Polar Ural in the Bolshaya Synya River basin the average population density (1968-1972) was 0.14, in 1974 – 0.07 spec. per 1 sq km (Estaf’yev, 1977).
In the forest-tundra in the region of Zolotnitsa and Koida settlements in June 1955 totally two pairs were observed; in 1956 the number of “owls was high, near Semzha settlement the breeding pairs were located at the distance 2-4 km; in May-June 1957 near Semzha settlement and near Konushino settlement we have sighted 1 birds (in each place), and on the eastern coast of the White Sea they did not nest in 1957, that “was a result of absence of the microtine rodents” (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1958).
In Bolshezemel’skaya tundra in the region of the forest island (average flow of More-Yu River) per 1.1 sq km of spruce wood and the moss-lichen tundra 1 pair was sighted (1978), and in 1979 the density was 0.04 spec. per 1 sq km (Estaf’yev, Mineev, 1983).
In the region of Komaty Lakes (June-July, 1992) in the wet spruce-birch sparse forest the population density was 0.5 spec. per 1 sq km (Mineev, 1994a). On Yugor Peninsula in Lymbadayaga River basin on the edge of distribution area the density reached 0.09 spec per 1 sq km (data by A.A.Estaf’yev).
Breeding: The breeding beginning dates mainly depend on the time of appearance of patches in nesting habitats and the presence of microtine rodents. In the years with delay of the spring phenomena or in “unharvested mouse” years the SEOs breed later or completely don’t breed. On the eastern shore of the White Sea the mass owl breeding was observed in 1956, and in 1957 the birds were rare here and did not breed as a result of depression of the microtine rodents (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1958). In the foothill and mountains of the Northern and cis-Polar Ural and at the middle stream of Vychegda River (Don-Ty Lake) the breeding birds were found also only in the period of high number of small mammals (1959, 1965, 1970, 1972, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1996 (data by V.N.Kapitonov, A.A.Estaf’yev, N.D.Neifeldt).
The courtship flights of birds are observing during arrival and last till beginning of breeding of clutches by females. In Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve near border of golets (nude top of mountain) belt of Man’-Pupuner mountain an activity of the courtship flights increased in the period 20-26 May (1989) (data by N.D.Neifeldt). The nests are locating on the ground under coverage of shrub of Blue buckthorn, dwarf birch or openly. There are from 5 to 10 white eggs in the clutch. During incubation process the egg-shell acquire greyish or light-brown tint. Sizes of eggs (n=4): 32.3-33.4 x 40.2-43.5 mm (data by K.K.Demetriades); (n=7): 30.5-32.0×38.8-41, in the average 31.7×39.6 mm (Gladkov, 1962). Thus, in the European North-East the sizes of 11 eggs had the following limits: 30.5-33.4×38.8-43.5 mm. The egg number in clutch increases in the years with high number of the microtine rodents.
In Sysola River basin (Syktyvkar town environs) 10 May 1982 there were 8 eggs in the nest. Nest was located on the flooded meadow among grass and low shrubs of dog rose at 1 m from the Mallard nest (data by S.K.Kochanov). In the Chib’yu River floodland at 4 km from Ukhta town 24 May 1975 in the nest there were 4 unincubated eggs. The nest was located in the base of dry tussock under coverage of dwarf birch on the open draining bog (0.5×2.0 km). The dry brass served as a litter. On the same bog 26 June 1981 in the nest one chick (younger) was situated and another four were at the distance 40-50 m. In elder chick the remiges were opened from sheaths at 1/3, in younger – at ¼ the of length of adult feather. 20 June 1985 here at 150 m from the nest, found in 1975 7 chicks of various age were situated. In elder remiges just have begun to open from sheaths (5-7 mm), in younger eye were not opened yet (data by K.K.Demetriades). In Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve the nests were discovered more often without litter at all: 27 May 1989 – clutch of 4 eggs, 16 June – 8, 23 June – 7 eggs, 1 July – clutch was abandoned (all eggs – “addled eggs”); in the second nest 26 July there were 5 chicks, which begun to cover by feathers. In the first nest the clutch was lost due to long frosts, in the second – chicks were torn off (killed) by dogs (data by N.D.Neifeldt). In the same year 19 July on the border of the mountain and sparse forest of the Man’-Pupuner mountain the SEO brood was discovered by A.A.Estaf’yev. The chicks were hidden in the grove (plot) of low abies wood. Northwards, at the middle stream of Bol’shaya Synya River the nest was placed on the flooded coastal meadow at 300 m from river on the moss tussock in Blue honeysuckle shrub. Six eggs were laid on the trampled moss. Near the clutch the owl feathers were laid. The local inhabitants saw this nest with clutch 8 June. At this time the snow cover in the forest reached 80-90 cm, and considerable areas of the flooded meadows also were situated under the snow with depth 40-50 cm. 17 June the clutch contained six slightly incubated eggs (Estaf’yev, 1977).
In Malozemel’skaya tundra and forest-tundra in the region of Semzha settlement 2 June 1956 incomplete clutch contained five unincubated eggs, the second clutch 12 June – 10 eggs (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1958). In the vicinities of Vorkuta town 7 July (1958) there were 7 eggs in the nest, 27 July in other – 4 chicks of various age (younger of them with unopened eyes) and one egg (Gladkov, 1962). Periodicity of egg-laying is 24-36 hours (up to two days), and duration of incubation – about one month (Priklonskiy, 1993b; Nikiforov et al., 1989) – 24-28 days.
Calculation of the egg-laying start points at considerable fluctuations of the dates of the SEO breeding start as by year in the region, as well during one year in different regions. In the north of region and in mountains of the northern part of Ural mountains the delay of breeding reaches one month due to late spring coming and snow cover melting from the nesting territory.
Mainly the clutch loss goes as a result of flooding during floods and during long frosts on soil. Adult birds are perishing during exhaustion in the little-food years and due to poachers. In Republic of Komi all owl species, including SEO, are under law protection (Rare animals and those and needed in conservation…., 1982).
In the owl feeding in Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve only small mammals: Field Vole and Northern Red-backed Vole, Northern Vole, Northern Birch Mouse, Common Shrew, Masked Shrew and Lesser Shrew. In the pellets (n=10), collected near nest in the mountain tundra of Northern Ural in 1989, over 80% of prey consisted of Common (Grey) Vole (data by N.D.Neifeldt).


Kulaeva, T.M. 1977. Otryad Sovoobraznye [Order Strigiformes]. // Ptitsy Volzhsko-Kamskogo kraya [Birds of the Volga-Kama Territory]. Nevorob’inye [Non-Passerines]. M., Nauka. P.239-257.
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus). Pp.246-248

Local name: Tatarian – “saz yabalagy”.

The Short-eared Owl is common in all territory, occurs somewhat more often, than the Long-eared Owl. Migratory species. According to observations of Ruzskiy (1893), in Kazan Province it appeared in the second half of April and departed in September. The passage exemplars occur till the middle of October. Bogdanov (1871) even considered, that the SEO stays till the end of November.
The earliest observation of the SEO in Tataria was registered 24.IV.1960, and the latest – 19.XII.1951.
The period of this owl presence in Orenburg Region is longer. At Zoological Institute of Ac. of Sc. of the USSR there are stuffed skins of the SEOs, bagged at the end if March 1883 and 7.II.1885 (collection of Z.A.Zarudnyi). Undoubtedly that under favourable feeding and weather conditions the separate exemplars of the SEOs remain to winter in our territory. Eversman (1866) ands Ruzskiy (1893) characterized the SEO as the commonest among all our owls, especially in river valleys and in wet swampy sites.
Bogdanov (1871) writes, that it avoids solid forests, but in the forest regions it inhabit forest valleys, clear-cuts, burned sites. The main “dwelling” of it are “open areas – steppes, meadows, fields”. In Ufa Province it was spread widely (Sushkin, 1897), but mainly in area poor by forests.
In Simbirsk Province the SEO was common in meadows, fields, on the steppe gullies, stayed on forest glades and in clear-cuts (Zhitkov, Buturlin, 1906). Pershakov (1929) considered meadows and floodlands as typical habitats for SEO.
The case of vagrant SEO in shed (barn) on the forest cordon of Raif Wood is known.
As inhabitant of open landscapes, the SEO easily lands on the ground and in the case of danger it quickly takes off from the ground.
For feeding the SEO flies out mainly with darkness coming, but sometimes it hunts in light time of the day too (Eversmann, 1866; Bogdanov, 1871; Zhitkov, Buturlin, 1906; Zharkov, Teplov, 1932; our observations). The SEO feeding is monotonous, microtine rodents dominate, among which more often the Grey (Common) Voles can be met. Among more rare and occasional food of the SEO jerboas, hamsters, ground squirrels 9soulsliks), shrews, small birds, frogs, insects can be sighted.
The SEO nests usually on the ground, builds simple nest as small pit almost without litter. The cases of usage of nests of other birds in the period of floods (magpies, crows) are known (Zharkov, Teplov, 1932). The SEO begins to breeds just after arrival, i.e. at the end of April. In Tatarian ASSR female lays up to 8 eggs (Zharkov, Teplov, 1932). According to observations of Bogdanov (1871), young SEOs fledge from the nest at the beginning of July.


Volkov, A.E. 1991. K biologii razmnozheniya dlinnokhvostoi neyasyti, bolotnoi sovy i yastreba-teterevyatnika v Irkutskoi oblasti [On breeding biology of the Ural Owl, Short-eared Owl and Goshawk in Irkutsk Region] // Ornitologiya [Ornithology]. M., Moscow Univ. Press. Vol.25. Pp.181-182. SEO on p.182. In Russ.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus). P.182

In the same pine massif in the crow’s nest, located in the pine-tree at the height of 3 m from the ground, the Short-eared Owl brood was discovered. In the first time the nest was investigated 6/VI, the brood consisted of 3 downy chicks. In the nest 1 Northern Vole was situated. Female has left the nest without noise and did not appear in the field of our view. During repeated investigation of the nest 22/VI only fledgling was discovered, which was sitting in the pine-tree over nest. In 1 hour after investigation the fledgling was not found in the nest environs.


Bianki, V.V., Boiko, N.S. 1997. K ekologii bolotnoi sovy Asio flammeus v severo-vostochnoi Fennoskandii [On the ecology of the Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus in the north-eastern Fennoscandia]. // Russ. J. Ornithol. Express-issue 13: 9-15. In Russ.

Kandalaksha State Nature Reserve, Kandalaksha, Murmansk Region, 184040, Russia

Received by Editorial Board 7 May 1997

In the region of Kola Peninsula the Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus – common, but not annually occurring species. It breeds on the open sites of the northern taiga – bogs, sites of fires, meadows, more seldom in the forest-tundra zone and much more seldom on small islands.
As it’s known, the owl number varies considerably, that is connected with the changes of microtine rodent number. For example, in southern Finland, judging by quantity of owls ringed there, for the period since 1954 till 1966 there were three seasons, when number of SEOs was high and they were ringed by 177-212 exemplars per summer; two seasons with average number, when 63-68 birds were ringed, and in the rest years the owl number was low and they were ringed in a number less than 32 birds (Valikangas, Nordstrom, 1957; Nordstrom 1958-1964; Nordstrom, Sten 1965; Sten 1966). On islands of Severnaya Dvina delta the SEOs were common in 1976 (Strelyaev, Sorokin, pers. comm.). On nature reserves of the Gulf of Kandalaksha in the period since 1955 till 1996 the SEOs were registered during 25 years (59.5%), in Lapland Nature Reserve – for the 46-year period, beginning since 1930 – during 19 years (41,3%). Especially many, almost half of all 114 records were registered there in 1978, when owls stayed mainly in valleys of rivers (Semenov-Tyan-Shanskiy 1991). Near Kolvitskiy Lake east of Kandalaksha town for the period 1970-1976 V.Yu.Semashko (pers. comm.) saw owls only in 1971, when were nested there.
During the course of expedition works of Kandalaksha Department of Geographical Society in 1976-1980 the SEOs were registered many times in Ponoi R. basin in 1978, more seldom in 1979 and 1980. On the Kanin Peninsula shore the SEOs inhabit, besides forest region, the forests with crooked trees and penetrate into tundra rather far. In 1955 under low number of small rodents the SEOs were sighted seldom. In 1956 there were many Grey Red-backed Voles Clethrionomys rufocanus, and breeding pairs of SEOs located at 2-43 km one from another (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1960).
In the north of FennoScandia the SEOs arrive usually in May. In the Gulf of Kandalaksha their appearance on Velikiy Island was observed by V.D.Kohanov 28 April-25 May, in the average for 13 years – 12 May (Bianki et al., 1993); on the Severniy [Northern] Archipelago in the top of gulf these birds were registered 7 April – 27 May, in the average 7 May. Very early appearance of owls on Ryshkov Island 7 April 1982 was connected with abundance of microtine rodents, warm winter and early melting of snow. At the beginning of April on the coastal meadows and bank forest edges there were already great thawed patches, they have appeared even in the forest. In the Lapland Nature Reserve these owls appear in the average 25 May (11 May – 6 June; n=10; Semenov-Tyan-Shanskiy, Gilyazov, 1991). In the territory of “Pasvik” Nature Reserve H.Schaanning in 1901-1906 recorded their appearance 12-27 May, in the average 19 May (Schaanning 1907). In some years the SEOs visit in spring even Ainovy Islands (Tatarinkova, 1985).
There are few data on the SEO data in the N-E of FennoScandia. Egg-laying begins usually at the end of May. In the first decade of June we found still incomplete or unincubated clutches. A.Wessel (1904) mentions two nests of SEO in Kirkines town region in 1903. In one nest 7 June there were 11 eggs, in other 22 June – 9. H.M.S.Blair (1936) has found near Svanvil 8 June 1926 unincubated clutch of 7 eggs. On Kanin Peninsula 2 June 1956 in the nest incomplete clutch of 5 eggs was situated and other 12 June – of 10 eggs (Spangenberg, Leonovich, 1960). In Lapland Nature Reserve another nest was known, in which 30 June 1982 the female incubated 1 egg. 18 August 1937 and 1-3 July 1978 there we meet SEO broods, and 27 July 1983 we have found remains of owlet eaten by predator. Besides that, judging by behaviour, owls nested still in 1938 (Semenov-Tyan-Shanskiy, Gilyazov, 1991). Near Kandalaksha settlement the female with young bird were bagged 18 August 1880 (Pleske, 1887).
On islands of the Gulf of Kandalaksha 2 SEO nests and another 4 times the nesting was supposed – in 1973, 1976 and 1982 on Velikiy Island (V.D.Kokhanov, pers. comm.) and in 1982 on Berezhnoi Vlasov Island (E.V.Shutova, pers. comm.). 4 June 1960 V.N.Mikhailov has found on the coastal meadow of Velikiy Island the nest with one egg. 24-28 June female incubated 5 eggs in it (Table 1). 17 July in the nest there were 3 chicks, which were ringed.

Table 1. The SEO egg sizes in FennoScandia

Region of Kirkines
(31.0-32.5) 31.9×39.3 (37.3-41.2)
(31.6-32.4) 31.8×39.5 (38.7-40.6)
Sweden, Finland
(29.7-33.3) 30.8×39.5 (36.3-45.5)
Velikiy Island
(32.6-33.4) 32.9×40.0 (39.0-41.0)
Our data

16 June 1994 the SEO nest was found on Devich’ya Luda of Severnyi [Northern] Archipelago. On this small island with area 13.8 ha the meadows occupy 4.7 ha, crowberry association – 8.1 ha and forest – 1.0 ha. Here the ducks, waders and gulls do breed, connected with sea, but the separate pairs of mainland birds settle seldom. In 1994 on luda (stones jutting out from water), in contrast to the forest islands, there were quite many microtine rodents. The SEO nest was situated on the coastal meadow near border with crowberry association. The nesting cup was lined with insignificant layer of dry grass. 16 June the female incubated 5 eggs. 1 July in the nest there were 3 chicks, one egg with pecked through egg-shell and one egg with hatching signs. 9 July 4 chicks of various age in the nest weighed 235, 148, 118 and 60 g. Their hatching, to all probability, took place 26, 28, 30 June and 2 July. The fifth egg disappeared. In comparison of the body weight of these chicks with data, given by O.Heinroth and M.Heinroth (1967), it’s possible to conclude, that their development went normally (see figure).
During inspection of clutch and brood the adult birds were flying near, worried, but did not attack the man.
10-18 July four times the many-hour observations for behaviour of adult birds near nest have been carried out (6, 24, 24 and 24 hours). During all-day round activity the owls spent for hunting, to all probability, about 16 hours 30 minutes. During 14 hours 30 minutes they were not seen near nest and only during 2h00 min they hunted over coastal meadow in the field of vision of observer. The rest part of the day owls sat on branches near nest (3h30 min) or in the nest with chicks (4h00min). The periods of presence of owls near nest took place mainly in morning and day-time hours – since 5 till 10 o’clock and since 12 till 17 o’clock. On the nest the female was sitting at night from 22 o’clock till 3 o’clock and in the morning from 4 till 8 o’clock. We would like to note, that owls constantly landed on the pine branches near nest or on the poles of 1m height in the meadow or on the ground, that is more typical for this species (Pukinskiy, 1977).

Comparison of our measurements of the SEO chick body weight 9 July 1994 on Devich’ya luda and data by O.Heinroth and M.Heinroth (1967) about body weight growth in two chicks of this species. Horizontal axis – age of chicks, days; vertical axis – Body weight, g.

The Common Gulls Larus canus and Herring Gulls Larus argentatus which bred on Devich’ya Luda did not disturb owls. Only 4 Ravens Corvus corax, passed by over nest, provoked reaction of the chick defence in owls. For this procedure they have spent 2 minutes only.
A major duration of time, spent by SEOs far from the nest, to all probability, is connected with difficulty of food acquiring. If for one day, beginning from evening 11 July, SEOs have brought the prey for chicks 30 times, so in one day – only 20 times. By 17 July 2 dead chicks were situated in the nest. We could not find the younger chick, and parents have brought food for elder owlet only 4 times per day. On the next day, 18 July, the remaining chick was in a bad condition, and we did not see it any more. Whole brood was lost.
Difficulties with food acquiring were arisen in SEOs, probably in connection with worsening weather – the cold wind was blown, rain started. It was possible also, that microtine rodents have decreased at so considerable territory of the hunting habitats. Owls did not fly to the neighbouring ludy, which are situated only at 200-300 m from Devich’ya luda. The Oystercatchers Haemotopus ostralegus and especially Herring and Common Gulls, to all probability, presented sufficient danger for them.
Under good feeding the bad weather was not dangerous for chicks. The lowest air temperature in July was registered on 4-8 July (minimal about 4°C, mean per day about 10°C). These days were successfully overlived by small chicks. They died in warmer period with minimal temperature 7-8°C and mean one about 15°C. To all probability, the main reason of their loss was a food shortage.
Adult SEOs soon have left Devich’ya luda. Probably, one of them was recorded still 16 July on Ryashkov Island at 3 km from Devich’ya luda and 23 July on the mainland coast at 2,5 km from it.
Under trees, on which the SEOs rested, we have collected 25 pellets, in which we could identify 40 objects of their prey: 35 voles, 4 shrews and 1 beetle (Table 2). Besides that, during investigation of the nest litter, we have found the remains of another 4 voles. Thus, voles made up 87.5% of the food objects, that correspond to the ration of the SEO according to other data (Pukinskiy, 1977; Priklonskiy, 1993). On Devich’ya luda the SEOs fed mainly almost exclusively by Tundra or Root Voles Microtus oeconomus. Of 34 voles of the genus Microtus up to the species 32 have been identified, among them 31 M.oeconomus and only 1 M.agrestis were identified. Among Tundra or Root Voles the young animals comprised 74.2%, overwintered – 25.8%. In the last days the SEOs had to catch shrews Sorex araneus (9.1%) and insects (2.3% of the total number of objects).
We would like to note, that in the SEO pellet, occasionally received 14 July 1986 on islands of the gulf of Kandalaksha near Luven’ga settlement, remains of 4 young M.agrestis and 1 Clethrionomys glareolus have been discovered. five pellets, collected 7 July 1991 near Luven’ga settlement, consisted of fell and bones of young Brown or Norwegian Rats Rattus norvegicus (Koryakin, com. pers.).

Table 2. The SEO pellet composition, collected 2-30 July 1994 on Devich’ya luda (exempl.).



(6 pellets)

9-10 JULY

(11 pellets)

17-18 JULY

(4 pellets)


(4 pellets)


(25 pellets)

Microtus oeconomus




Microtus agrestis









Microtus Sp.
Clethrionomys glareolus
Sorex araneus
Coleoptera indet.

Usually the autumn departure of the SEOs goes at the end of August-September, and last birds leave the breeding sites in October. Ring recoveries from SEOs, ringed in south Finland, show, that in August many owls wander within radius of 100 km from birth place. Out of 5 ringed SEO chicks, ringed on islands of the Gulf of the Kandalakhsha, 2 ring recoveries have been received. The first specimen was bagged in the first autumn 22 September 1960 near Sosnovyi settlement west of Loukha settlement (Karelia) at 75 km to S-W from ringing site on Velikiy Island. The second bird from the same brood was found dead 15 October 1960 in Freesland (Holland).
Distribution of the SEO observations on the islands of the Gulf of Kandalakhsha confirms the south-western direction of their autumn migration here and north-eastern in spring. In summer and autumn the SEOs occur mainly on islands of Kandalaksha skerries (89.7% of cases), and on Velikiy Island they were observed in this period much more rarely (10.3%). In spring, vice versa, majority of cases was done on Velikiy Island (77.8%). We explain this by the fact that SEOs avoid cross over considerable water obstacles, especially, probably, under all-day round polar day-time. Therefore, reaching Velikiy Island in May, they halt on it and can be sighted by people. Through numerous islands in the top of the Gulf they fly through (over) without decreasing speed of the spring migration.
During movement in summer and autumn in reverse direction the Short-eared Owls a little visit Velikiy Island (more often nomadic movements do it), before which there is open sea aquatory [area of water] with width 20-25 km. Migrating through the Severnyi [Northern] archipelago, they can halt on it under favourable conditions. For example, since 18 September till 3 October 1958 many times we observed SEOs on Devich’ya luda, where for this time we have registered 16 birds (some of them, probably, in the second time). Owls stayed with 1-4 specimens on the coastal meadow in the belt of driftwood escape. In other three observation points, situated from Kem-lud to Vir’ma settlement, in autumn 1958 the SEOs have not been registered (archive of nature reserve). Seldom they have been seen on western shore of the White Sea and in subsequent years of observations for autumn migration, though the coastal meadows there should attract them. Thus, passing by the Gulf of Kandalaksha or its shores the SEOs are directing through the mainland in the south-west direction to the Baltic Sea, and not along the White Sea coast.
A major part of the SEOs, ringed in 1954-1966 in south Finland, migrated to S-W (78%). In October-January 9 of them were found in France, 2 – in Great Britain and Spain and 1 in Belgium and on the migration flyway in southern Sweden (in each). The rest 4 ring recoveries does not give clear picture of migration: 3 owls were found in Estonia, Leningrad and Novgorod Regions of Russia, and the fourth one – in Italy (Valikangas, Nordstrom, 1957; Nordstrom 1958-1964; Nordstrom, Sten 1965; Sten 1966).
The last autumn observations of the SEOs in the top of the Gulf of Kandalaksha were done 4-5 October 1955 and 1977, at several days before, as the snow cover was established.
We sincerely are grateful to Natalia Ladyzheva for assistance in the field observations.


Bianki, V.V., Kokhanov, V.D., Koryakin, A.S., Krasnov, Yu.V., Paneva, T.D., Tatarinkova, I.P., Chemyakin, R.G., Shklyarevich, F.N., Shutova, E.V. 1993. Ptitsy Kol’sko-Belomorskogo regiona [Birds of the Kola-White-Sea region]. // Russ. orn. zhurn. [Russ. J. of Ornithology]. 2, 4: 491-586. In Russ.

Pleske, F.D. 1887. Kriticheskiy obzor mlekopitayushchikh i ptits Kol’skogo poluostrova [critical review of mammals and birds of the Kola Peninsula] // Zapiski Imp. AN [Proc. of Imperial Ac. of Sc.]. St-Petersburg, 56, Appendix 1: 1-536. In Russ.

Priklonskiy, S.G. 1993. Bolotnaya sova [The Short-eared Owl]. // Ptitsy Rossii i sopredel’nykh regionov. Ryabkoobraznye, Golubeobraznye, Kukushkoobraznye, Sovoobraznye [Birds of Russia and adjoining territories. Pterocleformes, Columbiformes, Cuculiformes, Strigiformes]. M.: 413-325. In Russ.

Pukinskiy, Yu.B. 1977. Zhizn’ sov [Life of owls]. L.: 1-240. In Russ.

Semenov-tyan-Shanskiy, O.I., Gilyazov, A.S. 1991. Ptitsy Laplandii [Birds of Lapland]. M.: 1-288. In Russ.

Spangenberg, E.P., Leonovich, V.V. 1960. Ptitsy severo-vostochnogo poberezh’ya Belogo morya [Birds of the north-eastern shore of the White Sea]. // Trudy Kandalakshskogo zapovednika [Proc. of Kandalaksha Nature Reserve]. 2: 213-336. In Russ.

Tatarinkova, I.P. 1985. O vstrechakh khishchnykh ptits na Ainovykh ostrovakh [On records of birds of prey on Ainovy Islands]. // Khishchnye otitsy i sovy v zapovednikakh RSFSR [Birds of prey and owls in nature reserves of the RSFSR].M.: 162-164. In Russ.

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Babenko, V.G. 2000. Ptitsy Nizhnego Priamur’ya [The Birds of Lower Amur River area]. Moscow, Prometei Press. 724 p. In Russian.

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus (Pontoppidan, 1763). P.338

Status. Common breeding migratory and passage, rare wintering species.

Systematic status. The bird shot by us belongs to the subspecies A.f.flammeus.

Distribution. Entire territory of the study region.

Seasonal movements. On Evoron Lake in 1986 the birds appeared in the 3rd decade of April (Pronkevich, Voronov, 1996). On Shantar(skie) Islands the birds appear in April – beginning of May, departure goes in September; owls also were registered in January (Dul’keit, Shul’pin, 1937; Yakhontov, 1977a). Several birds were recorded in Orel’ Lake region 8-9.10.1982 and 22-27.10.1982 in the Gulf of Ekaterina (Babenko, Kurilovich, 1985; our data). We registered the birds 5.10.1988 in the Chernaya River mouth.

Habitats. Marshes, rarefied tall larch woods, floodland meadows, flat knoll tops covered by untall grassy and shrubby vegetation, aerodrome in Komsomol’sk-na-Amure town.

Number. In different habitats this species population density varies from 0,2 to 0,8 pairs per 1 sq km (Kolbin et al., 1994; our data). Per 80 km of the boat route in the continental part of Oldzhikan River 26.5.1980 5 birds were counted. According to interrogatory data 4-15.5.1991 per 2-3 km of the floodland meadows in the region of Chernaya River mouth daily up to 5 birds were registered. In the Middle Priamurie [Amur River area] on the wet meadows and grassy bogs the population density is 0,2-0,8 specimens per 1 sq km (Smirenskiy, 1986).

Breeding. Testicles of male, bagged 14.6.1981 on Orel’ Lake had size 7 x 5 mm.


Mal’chevskiy, A.S., Pukinskiy, Yu.B. 1983. Ptitsy Leningradskoi oblasti i sopredel’nykh territoriy [Birds of Leningrad Region and adjoining territories]. L., Leningrad Univ. Press. Vol.1. 480 p. SEO on pp.421-424. Photo 1.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus). Pp.421-424

The SEO breeds in the meadow micro-habitats in the floodlands of rivers and lakes, and also on extensive waste lands amidst fields practically everywhere the North-West of the USSR. We found the SEO also on edges of the moss bogs, bordered by grassy-shrub vegetation, and on the plots of wet peat bogs, overgrown by sedge near carriers (open mines). Sometimes it settles not far from Leningrad (now-St.-Petersburg) on vacant plots in the region of Kupchino, Shushary, on Znamenka and behind new building black on Malaya Khta. In connection with decrease of areas, occupied by waste lands and development (transformation) of near-river meadows during last decade the number of SEOs, breeding in our area declined considerably. However even in previous years the high number was observed only during the mass rodent breeding. For example, the year 1958 was like this one, when on waste lands investigated by us in the south of the Karelian Isthmus (upper parts of Mor’ya River) on an area at only 25 ha 3 nests were found, and on the same plot another pair stayed. In subsequent 3 years (1959-1961) not more than one pair stayed here.
The first SEOs near Leningrad appear at the beginning of April, though the passage lasts entire April and in the first half of May. By this time the local birds already lek (display) energetically. Their mating flights usually begin since 7 o’clock in evening, at long time before darkness coming. The period of the most active display – end of April – beginning of May. Judging by dates of chick hatching, egg-laying in early nests begins already in the last dates of April, but usually – in the 2nd decade of May. Like in other owl species, hatching within limits of one clutch is extended very strongly. So, in the nest, investigated 27 May (Vsevolozhskiy district, 1962), 7 chicks were situated at the age from 1 to 12 days, and in three nests, discovered at the same place 15 June 1958, there were 7, 7 and 6 chicks, difference at the age between which in each nest was from 10 to 14 days. In two of these nests the hatching was finished 13-14 June, and in the third – 8-9 June.
As in majority of birds, breeding on the ground, the SEO chicks leave the nest comparatively early (Fig.128). Already on the 15th-16th day, being yet unable to fly, they usually go in different directions at 3-7 m from the nest, where they stay in the wait of parents arrival. The chick scattering, probably, avoids loss of whole brood from the terrestrial predator. Besides that, in such situation the male can feed chicks also, without harassment of female for the nest, as it is observing in other owl species.
The SEOs often hunt in day-time even in clear weather. During that they low fly above ground by searching flight, like harriers do it. Judging by animal remains, found near nests, the food base consists of different vole species. In the years of rodent abundance the SEOs deliver them to own chick in a number. For example, in 1958 near nests we often found up to 304 voles, which remain untouched because owlet were not able to eat them too.
Flying chicks begin to be sighted since the middle of July. By this time they usually reach month age. Till the middle of August they still continuer to stay by brood, but since the end of this month they already nomade (migrate) as single specimens.
Departure begins since September and lasts till the end of October. In this period the SEOs, resting on highways, often were “catched” by the beams of auto-car headlights. On the eastern shore of the Lake Ladoga on ornithological permanent observation plot “Gumbaritsy” the passage specimens were trapped in the period since 12 September till 23 October [Noskov et al., 1981]. The separate exemplars occur in the North-West in winter too [Bichner, 1884; Bianki, 1907b, 1910; Zarudnyi, 1910]. We observed this owl in winter period only once – 20 December 1979 and in the territory of Novgorod Region. It’s known also, that 6 January 1936 in Ostrovskiy district (now Pskov Region) one specimen was bagged, ringed 19 July 1933 in Finland on Valaa-Saari Islands. The birds ringed in Finland in summer in 3-4 months were found on the coast of the Gulf of Finland near Leningrad and in 1958.


Nechaev, V.A. 1991. Ptitsy ostrova Sakhalin [Birds of the Sakhalin Island] Vladivostok, Institute of Biology and Pedology of Far-eastern Branch of Ac. of Sc. of the USSR. 748 p. In Russian.

203. Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus (Pontopp.). Pp.262-263

Rare breeding, little-number passage and, probably, wintering species. It is spread throughout the territory of Sakhalin Island, but extremely sporadically.
In nesting period the SEOs were bagged (shot) on the shore of Nevskoe Lake (collector N.I.Volkov, collection of Zool. Museum of Moscow State University), in environs of Lyugi settlement (collector V.S.Stakhanov and G.F.Bromlei, collection of Zool.. Museum of Moscow St. Univ.), near Solov’yovka settlement (Momiyama, 1928), on the shore of Chaivo Gulf (Hesse, 1915), and in autumn, 20 October, not far from Vakhrushev settlement (Yamashina, 1928).
According to my data, the SEO breeds in the reed thickets on the shore of Aniva Gulf (Lososei Bucht), on the shores of Tunaicha and Svobodnoe Lakes, on the north-eastern shore of Sakhalin Island (Nabil’skiy Gulf), in vicinities of Oha town and on Shmidta Peninsula (banks of Kuegda Gulf and Nuerta Gulf). V.I.Vorob’yov found the SEO nests in the Aleksandrovsk town environs.
This owl nest was found by me 24 July 1985 on Chaika Island (Nabil’skiy gulf) in the colony of Common Terns and Aleutian (Kamchatka) Terns. The nest was situated amidst kolosnyak??? On the raised plot. In it the tainted (rotten) egg was discovered (sizes 38 x 32 mm). At 10 m from the nest the chick was stayed, which was feathered completely, but its remiges and rectrices did not reach norm yet. In 20 pellets, collected near nest, the remains of Sakhalin Voles (Microtus sachalinensis) were discovered – 100% of records and tern chicks (in three pellets). On the shore of Aniva Gulf the SEO was met, which was eating the Water Rail.


Panov, E.N. 1973. Ptitsy Yuzhnogo Primor’ya (Fauna, biologiya i povedenie) [Birds of the South Ussuriland (fauna, biology, behaviour)] Novosibirsk, Nauka Press. 376 p. In Russian.

198. Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus (Pontopp.). P.140

Unnumerous wintering species. In autumn some specimens appear comparatively early. Female was shot in environs of Ugol’naya Station 27 September 1911. Other autumn observations – 24 October 1959 and 11 November 1885. In spring the SEO was registered on islands of the gulf of the Peter of the Great since 20 April till 15 May (Labzyuk et al., 1971).
More often the birds can be observed at the end of January – beginning of February. For three winter periods owls were observed in vicinities of Nature Reserve totally 5 times, in the period between 20 January and 12 February. They gravitate to open spaces of the coastal plain, where there are separate small trees or small groves of Japanese Alder-tree. Often the SEO hunts in day-time.
The nearest known nesting site – vicinities of Ussurijsk (Lipovtsy Station), where 19 November 1948 the SEO nest was found with small owlets (Vorob’yov, 1954).


Stishov, M.S., Pridatko, V.I., Baranyuk, V.V. 1991. Ptitsy ostrova Vrangelya [Birds of the Wrangel Island]. Novosibirsk, Nauka Press. 254 p. In Russian.

Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus (Pontopp.). P.167

Rare, episodically breeding species. The nesting case of this species on Island and records of the separate specimens are given by A.V.Krechmar with co-authors /1979/. In 1980 the pair of displaying owls was observed in the region of Kmo Lake, on the western shore of island, since 25.05 till 8.06. The SEO nest with 6 eggs was found 7.07.890 in vicinities of Ushakovskoe settlement by I.B.Kester; later the nest was robbed. In 1982 the SEO pair three time – 26.06., 17.07 and 18.08 – were registered in Zvezdnyi settlement environs, in Somnitel’naya Bay and N.G.Ovsyanikov observed the single bird in lower parts of Tundrovaya River. Supposedly in the same year the SEO pair nested at the middle stream of Neizvestnaya River /Dorogoi, 1985/. Three records of the single SEOs (one – in the region of Tundrovaya mountain, two – in Zvezdnyi settlement environs) were registered in June-July 1986.
At least two specimens stayed in June 1988 on Herald Island, where they hunted for small passerine birds. At the end of the month one of these owls was found dead in extremely exhausted status.


Redinov, K.A., Korzyukov, A.I. 1999. Zimovki ushastoi i bolotnoi sov na zapade Nikolaevskoi oblasti [The wintering of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls in the West of the Nikolaev Region]. // Branta: collection of papers of Azov-Black Sea Ornithological Station. Vol.2. Pp.207-208. In Russ. with Engl. summary.

Nature Reserve “Elanetskaya Step”
Odessa State University

Material was collected during 1992-1999 in the territory of Eselinskiy district of Nikolaev Region. And also on Zmeinyi Island during spring and autumn migrations.
The Long-eared Owl (Asio otus L.). In the study region this is a breeding and wintering species. Wintering concentrations are recording since mid-November and till the end of March. They consists, to all probability6, of the part of local birds and arriving specimens from the north.
At the end of February – March we registered the mass migration of owls in the region of Zmeinyi Island. In the separate days simultaneously up to 300 specimens resting in different constructions were registered.
Usually the roosting sites are constant. As our observations show in Petrovskiy Game Reserve of Odessa Region the wintering grounds in one of spruce woods exist during tens years.
In Shirokolanovka settlement in 1996 simultaneously it was counted: 13.03.96 – 140 specimens, 27.12.97 – 85, 16.02.98 – 30, 9.01.99 – 80 specimens. Before 1996 the Long-eared Owls were registered in this settlement seldom and in insignificant number. The day-time resting sites were situated in the pine plantation near settlement. Here the maximal number of owls was recorded: 10.03.92 – 30, 7.03.93 – 23, 6.02.94 – 10, 16.01.95 – 55 specimens. In 1995 breeding of 2 pairs was recorded. In subsequent years the owls were not sighter here.
For the day-time resting sites the owls use the trees of different species, preferring pine-tress and ash-tree. They were recorded also on maple, white acacia, walnut, Elaeagnus argentera, pear. In tree crowns the Long-eared Owls usually sit near tree-trunk or on the thick lateral branches. On some trees up to 40 specimens are sitting. Sitting immobilly the birds practically are invisible. They are well masked by needles of pine-trees, fruits of ash-tree and maple. Often Owls sit near walls and roofs of buildings.
Judging by pellets, the food base is microtine rodents. Magpies (Pica pica) and Great Tit (Parus major) were recorded in pellets.
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus Pontopp.). Rare wintering, probably, breeding species. On wintering it was registered by us in the first time in 1995. Maximum of birds was counted on the garbage (rubbish) dump near Shirokolanovka settlement 22.01.1995 – 21 specimen. The last record 30.03.1995 – 16 specimens. In 1997 – 4 Short-eared Owls were counted in small gully near Shirokolanovka 11 January.
On Zmeinyi Island in spring and autumn periods the species migration over sea is registering. Number is not high. The tens of birds simultaneously resting on precipices (cliffs) are registering.