Hotline Photos

Are there two DIFFERENT Great Gray Owls?

One Great Great  Owl was reported near Midway on 29 Jan 2017 and a second Great Gray Owl was reported in Mountain Green on 2 Feb 2017.  The question is -- are they different owls or the same one?  Here are two photos for comparison.

Owl near Midway, Wasatch Co. Owl in Mountain Green, Morgan Co.
Photos by Cary Hobbs   ęCary Hobbs Photos by Scott Jones   ęScott Jones

Weston Smith Reports about the owl in Mountain Green:

 "...Talking to Garry [Mowery] as well as some local residents this bird has been in the neighborhood for at least one week possibly two or more."

Utah Bird Records Committee:

Sight record for the Midway Owl
Sight record for the Mountain Green Owl


Utah birders to be commended regarding GGO:
     email from Clark Monson

I've not been to Mountain Green to see the famous (especially after the KSL story) GGO, but I'm keeping that option open. I've followed with interest the reports from many of you regarding the owl's whereabouts and the calls for common sense regarding the welfare of both the owl and the human residents of Mountain Green. The fact that the owl is still there after several weeks of people driving up to see it suggests that it is unperturbed by the mild disturbance and that food is reasonably abundant. As I read on a website about GGOs in Manitoba, "Great Gray Owls are fairly tolerant of humans and co-exist even in high-use areas." This is also true for other species of owls, hence the ongoing use of a nest-box in my backyard by a pair of Western Screech Owls--noisy springtime lawn-mowing notwithstanding.

Many years ago I purchased a book by Robert Nero, titled "Great Gray Owl: Phantom of the Northern Forest." What astonished me more than anything else in the book were photos of GGOs flying to, and capturing, mice placed on the snow by a researcher (possibly the author) who knelt by the mouse with a long-handled fish net. The owls paid absolutely no attention to the human just a few feet away who easily netted them for scientific investigation. Further, biologists have trapped numerous GGOs in Yosemite National Park and collected blood and feather samples without causing any significant distress to the birds.

As long as we aren't regularly causing the owl to move from one place to another our presence is not incurring a deleterious effect. I can't speak, however, regarding our impact on the patience of Mountain Green residents. My only concern is that the attention given the owl on KSL might possibly lead to irresponsible behavior by non-birders wanting to catch a glimpse of the bird. But even this is highly unlikely given that vigilant birders are watching out for the owl's welfare. With well-above average late winter temperatures and an adequate food supply, I'd say the Mountain Green owl is perfectly content. While the constant parade of curious onlookers may now and then cause the owl to glance at its audience rather than concentrating on the muffled sounds of voles scurrying about beneath the snow (if there is any left), the more serious threat to its welfare is its abundant congener, the GHO [Great Horned Owl], and, when summer arrives, West Nile Virus.

Return to the Utah Birds Home Page