Home | About Us | How to Participate | Biodiversity Modules | Projects | Maps | News | Resources

GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Species Code: ASFL

This is an "at risk" species

Click to enlarge Range map

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat

Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)

Click to enlarge distribution map

Other maps & Information:
  • Breeding Bird Atlas
  • NatureMapping observations
    during breeding season
  • NatureMapping observations
    throughout the year

This species is uncommon in eastern Washington and very local in western Washington. It occurs in open habitats such as shrub-steppe, grasslands, farmlands, marshes, and wet meadows, and nests on the ground. In western Washington, they were formerly found at many sites with prairie vegetation; now declining and limited to the Bellingham area in Whatcom County, Nisqually Delta in Pierce/Thurston Counties, Ocean Shores in Grays Harbor County, the Kent/Auburn valley in King County, and Leadbetter Point in Pacific County.

Steppe zones were the core areas of use; local and peripheral in western Washington in Sitka Spruce, Woodland/Prairie Mosaic, and Puget Sound Douglas-fir. Good habitats in the steppe zones were parks, steppe, agriculture, and wetlands. Good habitat in western Washington zones were wetlands (including estuaries), shorelines, agriculture, and openings in the forest (but not clear-cuts).

Washington breeders represent the nominate subspecies A. f. flammeus. Short-eared Owls are irruptive, so populations in Washington can be expected to fluctuate, especially small local ones in western Washington. In western Washington, this species has declined considerably. In 1953, Short-eared Owls could be found in suitable habitat throughout the lowlands of western Washington. They are apparently absent now, but were formerly known from the lowlands of Clark County, the Sequim-Dungeness area in Clallam County, Ilwaco in Pacific County, and Westport in Grays Harbor County; also formerly widespread in western Whatcom County. In eastern Washington, intensive agriculture, overgrazing, and burning of fields continues to cause destruction of this speciesŐ habitat. Fallow fields and prairie remnants are the last breeding areas for Short-eared Owls in Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, Whitman, Asotin, Franklin, Adams, and Lincoln Counties. Despite the lack of breeding records from the BBA period, this species is known to nest in wet areas and prairie remnants throughout Palouse. Numbers in Lincoln county appear to be stabilizing.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester