Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 7-1999


Common name:

Elf Owl

Scientific name: Micrathene whitneyi
Date: 3 Aug 1999
Time: 9 pm
Length of time observed: 5 min.
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: male?
Location: Lytle Ranch, Beaver Dam Wash, Washington Co.
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: ~3000
Distance to bird: 15'
Optical equipment:  
Weather: clear, warm (~85), no wind
Light Conditions: dusk, still enough light to see but tough to tell colors.
Detailed description of bird: A very small, round-headed (no ear tufts) owl with a very short tail.  About the size of a Pygmy Owl but without the long tail.  Much smaller that Screech owl which was observed in the same tree moments earlier.  Bird appeared to be fairly uniformly brown, without any prominent markings.
Song or call & method of delivery: While perched in the tree, gave a few high-pitched chirps.
Behavior: We were watching a pair of screech owls in the tree for 10 minutes until they flew off to the south.  When I looked back to the tree, I saw the subject owl sitting on a dead limb not more that 15 feet from us.  It sat on the limb for 5 minutes, moving only its head.  Then I played on elf owl tape and it immediately swooped down on us and landed on a fence post behind us .  Sat for a minute, then flew north.
Habitat: Large lone cottonwood south of pond.
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Screech owl -- larger, darker, small ear tufts, call is a trill.
Flammulated  -- larger, small ear tufts, darker, call is single hoot.
Pygmy -- has a long tail, call is a series of double or single hoo's.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I've observed elf owls in southern Arizona.  Very familiar with screech, flam. & pygmy owls.
References consulted: none
Description from: Notes made later -- back at car.
Observer: Steve Hedges
Observer's address: 306 W. 970 N., Cedar City, UT  84720
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
VJ Hedges.  Many observers in previous month:  Larry Ryel, Terry Sadler, David Allen, Steve & Priscilla Summers, Lew Wilkinson, Josh Kreitzer, Mark Stackhouse, David Wheeler.
Date prepared: 6 Aug 1999
Additional material:  
   

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