|Detail showing "fuzz" on the feathers|
- Owls have fuzzy feathers along with a leading edge of "prongs" that make it look like a comb. These together channel air over the feather (black box of physics for me) that allow the bird to fly in utter silence. Raptors (Falconiformes) have this as well, but not nearly as well developed as in owls (Strigidae).
- In Chittenden County, there are records of 10 owl species, according to eBird.org. Six of these species are extremely rare (barn, snowy, hawk, great gray, long-eared, and short-eared owls). This leaves me with four probable species: eastern screech, great horned, barred, and saw-whet owls.
- Using the book Bird Feathers and the online Feather Atlas I was able to narrow it down to further. The largest feather is a flight feathers (one of the secondaries on the wing). Flight feathers are asymetrical, have a bend when looked at both in profile and head on, and the tail edge of the feather curls up slightly.
- The white bands on barred owl flight feathers cut straight across the feather. These were just white blotches on the trailing end of the feather.
- Barred owls also have 2 distinct colors of brown.
- Screech owls also have 2 distinct colors of brown on their primaries. I've also seen these before and they tend to have an orangey/reddish hue to them.
- The white on each feather makes a clear triangular shape
- Given size (about 3.5" long), color (one solid color of brown), and pattern of white dots, it seems like Northern saw-whet is the best match.
Where: Rock Point in Burlington
Other notes: Great resources are the online Feather Atlas and the book Bird feathers by S David Scott and Casey McFarland