Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)’s winter diets in northwestern Turkey (Thrace)

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Güngör U., Bacak E. , Beşkardeş V.

Forestist, no.71, pp.40-44, 2021 (Journal Indexed in ESCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.5152/forestist.2020.20021
  • Title of Journal : Forestist
  • Page Numbers: pp.40-44


The short-eared owl (Asio flammeus) is essantially a migrant species that overwinters in Turkey in small numbers. A limited number of studies exist investigating the short-eared owls’ diet, because it is difficult to determine their roosting areas and locate their pellets within the field. The pellet analysis of owls is one of the most prominently employed methods used to determine owl feeding strategies, and pellet analysis is important in the conservation studies of the short-eared owl. The present study is the first research investigating the diet of short-eared owl in Thrace. Our team gathered 153 pellets belonging to 308 prey items: 4 genus from Rodentia (Mammalia - Microtus sp, Mus sp, Crecitulus sp, Apodemus sp), 1 genus from Eulipotyphla (Mammalia - Crocidura sp) and 1 bird species from Passeriformes (Aves, Alauda arvensis) were identified within the pellets. Short-eared owls preferred in the majority of cases investigated small mammals (95%) in their diets, in particular Microtus sp (50%) and Mus sp (34%). Our team concluded that the Microtus and Mus genera occurred most commonly as the species in the study area. Various other small mammals identified in the pellets were comprised of Apodemus sp, Mus sp and Crocidura sp (11%), and a marginal number of birds (5%) were in addition found within the short-eared owl's diet. Short-eared owls, which display the characteristic behavior of an opportunistic predator, can shift their food habits with ease. However, our team found that a limited number of mammalian taxa comprised the short-eared owls’ diet, and because the owl’s diet consists mainly of rodents, the short-eared owl remains an important predator for agricultural fields and grasslands.