Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-21

Common name:

Snowy Owl

Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus
Date: 16 Feb 2013
Time: 5:00 PM
Length of time observed: 30 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Probably adult
Sex: Male
Location: Amalga Barrens
County: Cache
Distance to bird: ~50 yards
Optical equipment: Nikon 20x spotting scope
Weather: Partly cloudy, about 35 degrees F
Light Conditions: Direct sunlight at start of observation, sun getting low in the sky and obscured by clouds by end of observation. Sun was behind us while observing the bird in direct light.
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Large, mostly white owl; very distinctive. Small black bill, yellow eyes. Breast appeared completely white with no visible barring (hence probably an adult male). Some black mottling in the wing coverts. Tail mostly obscured by a fence.
(see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: Perched on a fence for the duration of the observation, looking around. After about 30 minutes of observation, it flew off to the northeast. At this time, an adult Bald Eagle was flying over head, so I suspect that the owl may have been avoiding the eagle. Also, the sun was setting, so the owl may have been flying off to roost somewhere for the night.
Habitat: Mix of open agricultural fields, shallow wetlands, and undeveloped open land.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
A very distinctive species with little chance for misidentification, except perhaps by inexperienced observers who are unfamiliar with Barn Owls. Barn Owls have a tawny back and wing coverts, not white with black mottling. Barn Owls also have dark, not yellow, eyes and are somewhat smaller.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
This is the thirteenth individual Snowy Owl I have seen, with others being in Oregon and Washington.
References consulted: Josephson 1980 for confirmation of sex and age.
Description from: Photographs taken at the time of the observation
Observer: Ryan O'Donnell
Observer's address: 1098 Crescent Dr
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 17 Feb 2013
Additional material: Photograph