Great gray owl is confirmed in Utah for first time in 28 years

First Published      Last Updated Feb 19 2017 03:16 pm

Bird lovers in Morgan County have been watching a little history lately.

The great gray owl has been spotted in the town of Mountain Green, marking the bird's first confirmed Utah appearance since 1989. Russell Norvell, the avian conservation coordinator for Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said there was a reported sighting in 1999, but not enough documentation to confirm it.

Bird watchers first saw a pair of great gray owls Feb. 9 in Morgan County, according to a post on the website Neo Vista Birding. Salt Lake Tribune photographer Rick Egan photographed the bird in a tree in the Morgan County town of Mountain Green on Saturday.

The bird's habitat typically stretches from the Teton Range in Idaho and Wyoming across the Canadian Rockies. Norvell said the heavy snowfall there this winter likely pushed the great gray owl farther south to find food. The owls eat small rodents.

"This is probably going to be considered an eruption year, at least locally, when you've got owls moving farther south to try to find food," Norvell said.


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