The Short-eared Owl doesn’t actually have short ears. It has tiny feathered tufts on the top of its head that are only occasionally visible. Though its superior hearing is key for finding prey, the bird’s actual ears aren’t apparent at all.
All misnomers aside, this denizen of open country across the globe—and places like Kankakee Sands in Indiana—has captured the Indiana Audubon March Migration Madness Chirpionship.
Asio flammeus took a winding path to the title, taking down Horned Lark in the Tweet 16 and then Golden-crowned Kinglet in the second round. A Feathered Four matchup against American Woodcock arguably was the small raptor’s toughest. Though it was a squeaker that won the title over American Kestrel.
Short-eared Owls aren’t common. The win attests to the popularity of owls in general and the appreciation of Indiana birders who know how special the birds are—a state endangered species that’s suffered from habitat loss through the years.
Thanks to everyone who’s played along these past few weeks as the NCAA men’s tournament took place entirely in Indiana. And congratulations to Lisa Sinke, who picked the owl to win it all and wins our prize package!