[Mystery bird] Northern Hawk-Owl, Surnia ulula, photographed in the Meadows Campground near Hart’s Pass of the Okanogan National Forest, located above the Methow Valley of Eastern Washington [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Lee Rentz, 19 October 2008 [larger view].
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
Even with owls it pays to start at the rear of the bird. Many owls are stocky and stumpy, their wings and their tails about the same length; some, though, like this quiz bird, have decidedly long tails. To judge by the dead twigs it is perched on, this is neither a pygmy-owl nor a Great Gray Owl, but rather a medium-sized bird. Its perch against the sky, its long tail, and its overall gray tone identify it quickly as a Northern Hawk Owl, a species birders all along the US-Canadian border — and even farther south — are busy looking for right now.
This bird is called “Northern” to distinguish it from the Ninox “hawk owls” of Australasia, one species of which, the Brown Hawk Owl, has now occurred twice in the ABA area, once on Kiska and once on St. Paul.