Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-45(R81)
(Transcribed by M. G. Moody)

Common name:

Great Gray Owl

Scientific name: Strix nebulosa
Date: 6/15/81
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Length of time observed: 15-20 seconds
Number: one
Age: unknown
Sex: unkown
Location: Limber Pine Nature Trail, Hwy 89 - Cache N.F. - Bear Lake Summit
County: [Cache/Rich -- on the border]
Distance to bird: 100 feet
Optical equipment: 10 x 40 Zeiss and 7 x 35 Bushnell
Weather: cool
Light Conditions: clear (bird flying away from sun)
Description:        Size of bird: noticeably larger than Red-tailed Hawk
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
[Head & Neck:] Extremely large, rounded head.  Entire head gray.
[Upperparts:] Entire upperparts light gray.
[Rectrices:] tail appeared fairly long for an owl.
[Wings:] wings extremely wide and wingspan appeared to be wider than typical Red-tailed
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Habitat: Cottonwood Grove and surrounding meadow
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Immediately after sighting the bird, both observers believed it to unquestionably be a Great Gray Owl.  The 3 other species this bird could possibly have been can be ruled out for the following reasons: 

Great Horned Owl (adult) - Body coloration too gray for an adult Great Horned Owl.  Wings far too long and wider than typical Great Horned Owls.

Great Horned Owl (juvenile) - Though young Great Horned Owls can be gray in appearance, they are nowhere near as large nor do they have the same body shape as the bird observed.

Spotted Owl - (ruled out for following reasons); Body of Spotted Owl too slender and much shorter.  Head of Spotted Owl too small. Spotted Owl wings not nearly as wide or long as those of species sighted.

Goshawk - (ruled out for following reasons); Overall size of species sighted was much larger than adult Goshawk.  Wings of Goshawk much narrower, especially at wingtip and not nearly as wide as bird observed.  Head shape of Goshawk much more slender and pointed than that of species seen.  If this bird had been a Goshawk, wing movement would probably have been heard.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Mr. Van Vuren has observed every large North American owl in daytime flight previous to this sighting and strongly feels that this bird was considerably different than any species he has seen before.

Ms. Cartier spent all last summer helping on an owl study in Klamath National Forest in Northern California and saw Spotted, Barn and Great Horned Owls in flight on many occasions.

References consulted:  
Description from:  
Observer: Kent Van Vuren and Karen Cartier
Observer's address:  
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: [assumed in 1981]
Additional material: Original Record
Additional comments: