OK…some birds have great appeal…and some birds don’t. Being December, I feel a bit compelled to feature a bird with a certain amount of “appeal” to close out this birding year. A bird with “appeal” that can be found in our state, and a bird that can be found in our state…right now.

Some might think that all the birds with “appeal” are out of our state during these sometimes cold and dark months. But actually there are many birds in our area right now that I find quite appealing. One is the Bird of the Month for December, the Short-eared Owl.

When most of us think of owls, we probably get pictures in our minds of rather large birds that hang out in forests and trees. In our mind they come out at night (nocturnal) and are kinda “spooky”. The Short-eared Owl isn’t a bird of the forest and trees…but is a bird of open country, prairies, grasslands, tundra and marshes. And while they will come out at night, they are most active during daylight (diurnal) hours. (More correctly I think they are best described as “crepuscular” or more active during the twilight of the day.) But I think they are still kinda “spooky” looking. Owls, because of their disc shaped face, along with large eyes that both look forward, gives them a very “human appearance”, rendering them kind of “spooky”. Owls are especially “spooky” when you find one looking directly at you. Owls tend to give you the heebie-jeebies when they stare directly at you. (Well…they do that to me anyway.)

Because of the preferred habitat of the Short-eared Owl and their hunting behavior of flying back and forth low over fields, they are easier to see than most owls. Their flight is often described as being “moth like”. I think this is a good description of these owls, because as these owls fly with great buoyancy on floppy wing-beats, they do indeed remind me of giant whimsical moths as they go about their business.

I saw a Short-eared Owl today out at the Mount Comfort Airport. (Airports provide a habitat that these birds enjoy. IE, wide open grassland.)



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