Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Eastern Screech-Owl, Otus asio, photographed at the Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship building in Manhattan Kansas [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]

Image: photographed by Thomas Manney, this image appears here at the suggestion of Dave Rintoul.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

[Mystery bird] photographed at the Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship building in Manhattan Kansas [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]

Image: photographed by Thomas Manney, this image appears here at the suggestion of Dave Rintoul.

[Mystery bird] photographed at the Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship building in Manhattan Kansas [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]

Image: photographed by Thomas Manney, this image appears here at the suggestion of Dave Rintoul [larger view].

The photographer writes;

[The uppermost image] is from outside using a polarizer to remove window glare and with the inside lights off. It shows a reflection of the woods. In the [second image from the top] I used PhotoShop to pick out what I recall being contributed by the bird. I removed the background based on color and focus. In the last one, I used the Unsharp Mask filter to enhance the edges.

Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:

One of my abundant excuses for never washing windows is the array of fascinating dustprints I get every time a Cooper’s Hawk flashes through the yard: Gambel’s Quail, Mourning and White-winged Doves, and anything else caught out in the open fly into the windows. The lucky ones bounce off and keep flying; the others go to feed Cooper’s Hawklets in the local nest.

The breadth of body and head identify this beautiful offset as the product of an owl. Identification would be simple had the photographer thought to tape a ruler to the window. But as it is, my sense is that the bird is short and not overly large, with relatively short wings. In Manhattan, KS, that would make it an Eastern Screech-Owl. I hope the bird is all right.

Review all mystery birds to date.

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Laden
    April 1, 2009

    The Hallutinatin Owl Bird

    Identifying Marks: Ain’t really there, mebeee

  2. #2 Ian
    April 1, 2009

    I’m quite sure it’s an Aprilus foolus. You can tell by the sound it makes – it’s a hoot!

  3. #3 Rob Clack
    April 1, 2009

    Well it ain’t a pigeon – I get loads of those.

  4. #4 Curious
    April 1, 2009

    Thunderbird! field marks, is a spirit, and eagle, and shiny….;)

  5. #5 Dwayne Allen
    April 1, 2009

    clearly, an angel

  6. #6 Cherish
    April 1, 2009

    Flying banshee?

  7. #7 Sean
    April 1, 2009

    It’s an anteater.

  8. #8 just me
    April 1, 2009

    It’s a moth.

  9. #9 Darr Sandberg
    April 1, 2009

    broadhead, short stubby wings, no sense of scale in the pictures

    could it be the impact impression from a hummingbird?

  10. #10 Michael
    April 1, 2009

    Image the result of the impact of an Eastern Screech Owl flying into a window – the feathers left a dusting of powder-down on the glass. Of course, I can’t be sure of the scale so a larger species of owl might have been involved.

    Here’s a similar imprint from a Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) in the U.K.

  11. #11 "GrrlScientist"
    April 1, 2009

    okay, i know you think this is amusing, but let me point out a few field marks: first, the bird left a dusty image on the window pane .. doesn’t this narrow down the possibilities just a wee bit? and how about the body shape and wing morphology? aren’t those giving you a few hints too? Oh, and in the background is .. habitat! so besides knowing the location in the country where this bird left its signature, we also know the sort of habitat it lives in. All these things are clues that you should be using to arrive at your suggested ID.

  12. #12 pk1154
    April 2, 2009

    The only bird to strike one of my windows that ever left a residue on the window was a mourning dove. It pulled up
    at the last moment and hit the window breast first, leaving
    a perfect impression of it’s breast feathers and a few marks
    from its wings.

    The cardinal that once struck my window left no dust behind,
    nor did the cedar waxwing. (Both of these were momentarily
    stunned, and both struck large windows. Oddly, the dove
    hit one of the smallest windows this house has, and the only one it has above ground level on that side of the house. )

  13. #13 Sarah
    April 8, 2009

    I refer you to a fascinating analysis of a similar window-strike-powder-shadow, with analysis and demystification:
    http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek070308.html

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