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Temple, Stanley A. (ed.) / The passenger pigeon
Vol. 53, No. 3 (Fall 1991)

Evrard, James D., et al.
Nesting short-eared owls and voles in St. Croix County,   pp. 223-226 PDF (1.5 MB)

Page 223

Nesting Short-Eared Owls and Voles in
St. Croix County
Nesting Short-eared Owls and an unusual concentration of
other predators (Northern Harriers, Rough-legged Hawks, red
fox, and coyote) were found in an area with a high population
of meadow voles.
by James 0. Evrard, DeWayne A. Snobl, Paul B. Doeneir
and Jill A. Dechant
The Short-eared Owl (Asioflammeus)
Tis known as the "gypsy" of the owl
world (Hamerstrom 1972). This no-
madic bird nests wherever eruptive
populations of Microtus voles, its nearly
exclusive prey, occur (Craighead and
Craighead 1956, Hamerstrom 1972,
Clark 1975, Korpimaki 1984).
Nesting Short-eared Owls are rela-
tively rare in Wisconsin. There were
about 10 nesting records in the state
until 1970 when Hamerstrom (1972)
found 17 nests on the Buena Vista
marsh during a meadow voles (Microtus
pennsylvanicus) eruption. Only 1 Short-
eared Owl nest was reported for the
St. Croix River Valley (Faanes 1981).
That nest was found in the managed
grasslands of the Oakridge Waterfowl
Production Area near New Richmond,
Wisconsin in 1978.
As part of a long-term waterfowl and
pheasant production study in north-
western Wisconsin (Evrard and Lillie
1987), we nest searched 400 ha of re-
tired agricultural fields in 1991. The
grassy fields, located in Stanton and
Erin Prairie Townships in St. Croix
County, were enrolled in the federal
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
A cable-chain drag (Higgens et al.
1969) was used to conduct 3 searches
of the nesting cover during May and
On 16 May, during the first search
of a 96-ha block of CRP fields in Sec-
tion 9, T30N, R17W, the junior au-
thors flushed a Short-eared Owl. The
owl flushed in front of one of the ve-
hicles pulling the cable-chain drag and
flew 10 m before landing in the grass.
They stopped and searched the area on
foot where the owl flushed, finding a
The nest was a round, shallow bowl
of dead grass containing 6 cream-col-
ored eggs, slightly smaller than chicken
eggs. Vegetation at the nest was dom-
inated by quack grass (Agropyron re-
pens) with a maximum height of 90 cm

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