Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Western Screech-owl, Megascops kennicottii, photographed in Arizona. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Richard Ditch, 11 June 2005.

Date Time Original: 2005:06:11 13:52:01
Exposure Time: 1/60
F-Number: 5.60
ISO: 500

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

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 psweet
    July 16, 2009

    No elevation, no voice? Ouch….

    This is a Screech Owl — the yellow eyes, small size, and black mark at the lower lateral part of the facial disk are sufficient to go that far.

    Which one? The bill seems to be a medium blue-gray. An adult Western Screech should have a dark bill (except for the tip), but juveniles have paler bills. Western’s should also have prominent dark streaks on the center of the breast feathers. A few are visible at the upper breast here.

    Whiskered Screech Owl should have bolder markings underneath, including much more widely spaced crossbars. There is supposed to be a difference in the size of the feet, but I’ve only seen the feet of one Whiskered and I’ve never seen a Western, so I can’t make that comparison.

    Overall, I’ll guess juvenile Western, but I figure I’ve got about a 52% chance of being right, if I’m lucky.

  2. #2 ground petrel
    July 17, 2009

    I agree: barring on the belly and lack of ear tufts points to juvenile western screech owl.

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