This stunning bird is one of only two species of owls native to Galapagos, the other being the Galapagos Barn Owl. This small dark-brown owl measures up to 16 inches (40cm) in length and is well distributed around the islands. Elsewhere in the world the numbers of short-eared owls are declining, but thanks to the protected status of the Galapagos National Park they are thriving on the islands.
As suggested by its name the Short-Eared Owls ear tufts are incredibly small and can be just about visible near the centre of their forehead. This defining feature that gives the bird its name is in contrast to its large eyes and head, as well as its impressive wingspan.
The Short-Eared Owl nests on all the major Galapagos islands, and on your cruise you are most likely to spot them in open grasslands or up in the Highlands during shore excursions. You can also sometimes see them flying between the islands to nest or hunt for food.
The presence of other predatory birds determines the behaviour of this owl. If the Galapagos Hawk is in the area, the Short-Eared Owl is known to restrict its nighttime activity, but only if a Galapagos Barn Owl is nowhere nearby. When the Hawks aren’t around, you can see this owl hunting during the day in places such as Genovesa Island.
Short-Eared owls have a varied diet, and they will prey on smaller birds, Rice Rats, mice, reptiles and large insects. On your Galapagos cruise, you will enjoy shore excursions that will give you a fantastic opportunity to observe these owls and capture photos and memories that will last a lifetime.
Fast Facts about the Galapagos Short-eared Owl
- If Galapagos Hawks and Barn Owls are present in the same area, these owls will stay away
- Usually hunts during the day
- The female is larger than the male
- Their preferred hunting grounds are around Storm Petrel colonies