Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2020-56

Common name:

Boreal Owl

Scientific name: Aegolius funereus
Date: 10/3/2020
Time: 9 PM
Length of time observed: Approximately ten to fifteen minutes per bird
Number: 3
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: General area was Uinta Mountains. Specifics can be provided if required.
County: Wasatch
Elevation: 9-9,500'
Distance to bird: 15-20'
Optical equipment: Nikon D500 with 200-500mm zoom lens
Weather: Clear sky, nearly full moon, no wind, temps in the 50s
Light Conditions: Nocturnal sighting with the aid of a flashlight
Description:        Size of bird: Slightly larger than a Northern Saw-whet
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Similar to Northern Saw-whet with bulkier head
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Gray/brown with evenly dispersed white spots on top side. White spotting on crown and between brows. Gray/brown streaking on chest and belly that created white spotting in areas of the upper chest.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Pale/light-colored
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The birds looked similar to Northern Saw-whet in shape, but the heads were bulkier with smaller and brighter yellow irises. Facial feathers were mostly white rather than buffy like Saw-whet. Dark feathers forming a semicircles around the face were broken up by white feathers below cheek area. The topsides were light brown, almost gray looking at times, depending on lighting, with white spotting throughout. Undersides had light brown streaking which strayed in some parts to create white spots in the upper chest area. The bills were pale rather than dark like a Saw-whet.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: The birds vocalized a few times with a soft squeal and an occasional grunt. When two birds were in close proximity one bird did a soft and short subsong.
Behavior: The birds responded to playback and were active in the dark.
Habitat: High-elevation coniferous forest. Most trees were pine.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
See how Northern Saw-whet was eliminated under description.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I saw one in Minnesota and a second one about one week ago near West Yellowstone. I have significant experience with Northern Saw-whet.
References consulted:  
Description from:  
Observer: Jeff Cooper
Observer's address: 3499 N 1270 W
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 10/4/2020
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Photos will be emailed to