[CT Birds] Owls in Flight

Steve Mayo rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net
Thu Dec 17 21:18:40 EST 2009

I think that's a real tough one for several reasons.  Usually you just see a splotchy, tawny, tan, chocolate, burnt-umber, grayish blur, coursing through trees on a couple stiff wingbeats.   Usually an owl in flight is seen for only a moment and "ffffft!", they are gone.  Well, actually, there's not even a "ffffft" because owls have fimbriae, those "frayed" feather edges that render owl flight so noise-less.  
But I digress. Eastern Great-Horneds sometimes show a dark carpal patch on the upper wings.  On the upswing, both owls show a weak carpal crescent on the lower wing, which doesn't help at all. 
The Barred Owl has a larger, more bulbous looking head (GH has a relatively smaller head and more angular "forehead") and the Barred Owl's chest striping (the bars, the thick striations) can sometimes be seen, contrasting against a pale body.  Often in flight you can see that classic Barred Owl "muffler", the thick throat area.  
The big challenge with birding is memorizing all the field marks on all kinds of birds before you go out birding.  I forget field marks and try real hard to just catch something on the chest, or head or wings or tail and hope I have observed a field mark on the proper portion of the bird.  
Steve Mayo
--- On Thu, 12/17/09, Lynn Jones <lynnjones11 at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Lynn Jones <lynnjones11 at gmail.com>
Subject: [CT Birds] Owls in Flight
To: "CT Birding" <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Date: Thursday, December 17, 2009, 1:32 PM

Yesterday evening I had an owl fly over the parking lot area as I was headed
to my car after work.  We have had a Barred Owl spotted during the day in
the area so I assume this was probably the same individual.  I did quickly
glance wingspans up online for Barred and Great-horned and noticed there is
an overlap.  Can anyone tell me any other features than can be used in such
instances for identifying between the 2 species?  Or any references (online
or other) that would be of use?  Thanks!

Lynn Jones
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