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Bird Photography: The Short-Eared Owl Has Settled In Cuxhaven

Bird photography fans residing in Germany can find the Short-Eared owl in a Cuxhaven park.

| Animals / Wildlife

Bird Photography: The Short-Eared Owl Has Settled In Cuxhaven: Short-Eared Owl


The Short-Eared owl is quite rare in Germany but a few of them aroused a great wave of enthusiasm when they appeared in a dog park in Cuxhaven.

Around 50 photographers gathered in the dog park of the Cuxhaven harbour area but man's best friend was not the reason they were there, the Short-Eared owls were. About six specimens could be seen there, between the yachts and the caravans. They did not show shyness, could be photographed easily and even tolerated dogs in close proximity.


The Short-Eared Owls In Cuxhaven

Again and again, the birds showed their impressive hunting flight, flapping their wings a few meters above the ground. To find a mouse, they use their ears but these are not the little feathers on their heads. In fact, the ears lie on the sides of the head, beside the eyes. The semi-circularly arranged feathers on the head act as sound amplifiers and they transmit every little noise to the ears. Even if prey manages to remain absolutely silent, their urine would betray them. Since it reflects UV light, owls can see it as clearly as a neon sign in the night.



Why did these owls choose to settle in this dog park? The reason is simple: the owner of the property did not mow the park and it gradually became a paradise for mice... and a richly laid table for Short-Eared owls. Dogs and humans were no longer a good enough reason to not settle in the park.


Short-Eared Owls Are A Highly Endangered Species

Great experiences as the one in Cuxhaven can easily deceive the sad reality that only between 50 and 180 breeding pairs of Short-Eared owls reside in Germany. Most of them live near the North Sea, in dunes and salt marshes and are less frequent inland. While the small population on the coast is quite constant, the land-based population is highly dependent on the mouse population. The more mice there are in an area, the better it is for the Short-Eared owls but when rodent numbers dwindle, the owl population tends to decrease very quickly. 

During winter, they like to form larger groups and look for food together. In Cuxhaven, they capture mice and take them to certain places in the park. Once winter has arrived, the whole group then uses the stored food.

Such observations highlight how fascinating the Short-Eared owls are and that they are definitely worth protecting.


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