This species lives in wide more or less treeless areas covered in grass. It mainly feeds on small mammals like mice and water voles and may live on both dry and wet areas. It prefers areas with a mosaic of extensive meadows and grassland with medium high to high grass-dominated vegetation.

Nests are placed on the ground in high vegetation or under shrubs.

The Short-eared owl is listed on Annex I of the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC).