Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-07

Common name:

Boreal Owl

Scientific name: Aegolius funereus
Date: 07/15/2016
Time: 9:30 PM
Length of time observed: 10 mins
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Unknown
Location: Center Creek in the vicinity of Bald Knoll
County: Wasaatch
Elevation:  9,800'
Distance to bird: 100-200 yards
Optical equipment: n/a
Weather: Clear night
Light Conditions: Night time
Description:        Size of bird: Not observed
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Not observed
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Not observed
(Description:)            Bill Type: Not observed
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird was not observed, but an audible was recorded.

While guiding an out of state birder having gotten the owls he wanted the night before we decided to do some exploratory high-elevation owling. We picked areas that looked like they could potentially have Boreal, Saw-whet, or Pygmy-Owls, based off my previous owling in the area.

We started the night trying for Flammulated, then Pymgy, and Saw-whet Owls with no response. We decided to try the Boreal Owl last since it was the larger and more aggressive of the species. We started playing a typical territorial male song in bursts of 30 seconds with 2 minutes of listening. After the very first burst, we heard a distinctive alarm call from the stand which was about 100 yards away. We played the song again, and again had the call in response. I got my recorder ready and after the 3rd burst was able to catch the call on tape.
Song or call & method of delivery: The alarm call in response to the male song is basically "ooo-ahh". Given the distance to the bird and my cheap recording equipment, you can only make out the highest part of the call. But in the open, the "ooo-ahh" could be heard clearly.
Behavior: n/a
Habitat: In particular was a very old, east facing slope in the Bald Knoll area. The thick spruce-fir forest here is bordered by a ridge with a few aspen patches. The area sit's right around 9,800' in elevation and the forest patch covers 100s of continuous acres. To the west of the particular patch is a large open meadow that borders the forest for about a 1/2 miles and wraps around the mountainside

In Colorado, BOOW found to occur between 9,100 and 10,400 ft. elevation although the highest densities were above 9,800 ft. in mature spruce-fir forests where there were numerous subalpine meadows and high populations of red-backed voles.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
 No other high elevation owl has a similar call, alarm, or song
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have heard a couple times in the past, and am very familiar with all of the more common owls in Utah's various calls and songs from years of guiding birders for owls.
References consulted: and
Description from: Notes made later
Observer:  Tim Avery
Observer's address: Sandy, Utah
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared:  01/31/2017
Additional material: Tape
Additional comments: Recording attached to this checklist: