Short-Eared Owl Tracking Has Shown Surprising Migration Patterns

  • December 27, 2019

With a wide range of open habitat and surprisingly variable movement behaviour, the short-eared owl is proving to be one of the most interesting and mysterious species to study. A significant decline in their population in recent years has prompted the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to implement a research project to understand more about these birds. Their study aims to use data on fine-scale and long-distance movements to identify factors affecting their use of apparently-suitable habitat.

In order to identify these key factors, researchers have used Lotek PinPoint GPS Argos Solar tags to accurately track the local movements and migration of the owls. As the birds are active during the day, solar panels prolong the tag life, taking locations every three hours as sunlight allows.  The GPS locations, accurate to tens of metres, are sent to Argos satellites that can then relay the data to a computer for BTO researchers to examine.

The tagged short-eared owls have provided some fascinating and valuable insight into their lives. Who would have thought that owls breeding in Scotland would move to Norway or Morocco?  To follow the study and find out where these owls go next, visit the project’s website at: