Environmental Research Unit, PO Box 434, Stanley, Falkland Islands
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeus sanfordi
Local Name: Owl, Brown Owl
Breeding Range: Falkland Islands
Falklands Population: ~100 breeding pairs
World Population: as above (subspecies restricted to Falklands)
The subspecies Asio flammeus sanfordi is unique to the Falkland Islands, and its breeding population is very small. It is widely distributed, but mostly breeds on offshore islands that hold populations of prions and petrels which form the bulk of its prey. It is also known to feed on rodents and large insects, especially during the winter when prions and petrels leave their breeding sites. Two eggs are laid on the ground under the cover of dense vegetation, usually in September or October. Eggs hatch 4 weeks later, and chicks are totally dependent on the parents until they fledge after another 4 - 6 weeks. If present Short-eared Owls are easily seen, since they show little fear of humans. Indeed adults can sometimes be very aggressive in the defence of eggs or young. Sexes are similar in appearance.