Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-31

Common name:

Great Gray Owl

Scientific name: Strix nebulosa
Date: Probably January 1949
Time: 8:00 a.m., & 4:30 p.m.
Length of time observed: 1- 30 minutes; 2- 30 minutes
Number: One
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: 2533 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 4300 feet
Distance to bird: 50 feet
Optical equipment: None
Weather: Clear, cold
Light Conditions: No obscurity
Description:        Size of bird: Extremely large - 2 feet tall
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Bulky, elongated
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Charcoal grayish
(Description:)            Bill Type: Owl type of hooked bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
 I don't expect the Records Committee to accept this sighting, but I thought I would submit it for the records files. (I don't know why I haven't thought to do this before.)

During the winter of 1948-49, the snows were so deep from central Utah up to Canada, that several Great Gray Owls were seen in central and northern Utah. On this occasion (it actually could have been in February), as my dad stepped outside to go to work, he came right back in and had me stand on the porch to look at the owl perched in the box elder tree next door, barely 40-50 feet away. I watched it there until I had to leave for school at 8:45. When I returned from school at 3:30 p.m., it was still in the same position. I watched it till night fell - about 5 p.m. The next day, of course, after hunting during the night, it roosted somewhere else in the valley.

The next day or two, the local newspaper (Deseret News) reported that 4-5 of the owls had been seen in the valley during that week, and apparently some were seen in Utah, Davis, and Weber counties, as well. (You'd have to check in the newspaper files for that time period to get the observation date to within a week of when I saw the owl.
Song or call & method of delivery: N/A
Behavior: Perched in a leafless box elder tree and didn't apparently move from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. The next day it was gone.
Habitat: Suburban winter, leafless trees in neighborhood.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
There were really no similar species that were considered at that time. The type of perching location, overall size and color were quite diagnostic.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
This was a first-time sighting.
References consulted: Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds.
Description from: From memory
Observer: Stephen L. Carr
Observer's address: 2801 E. 5140 South, Holladay, Utah 84117
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: W. Lamoni Carr, father, now deceased
Date prepared: August 22, 2006
Additional material:  
Additional comments: