local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 last week

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of January 14 - 20, 2004


Birders gaga over Canadian visitor

A northern hawk owl lands in Elkhorn

Express Staff Writer

For nearly a week a birding phenomenon has enveloped Sun Valley. Indeed, since the first sighting of a northern hawk owl on Thursday, Jan. 8, by birder and artist Poo Wright-Pulliam, the valley has been a twitter.

"It’s very big news, check the Internet," Wood River Middle School teacher and birder Brian Sturges said. Many birders go to find regional information on bird sightings on the Web site birdingonthe.net. There is a week’s worth of notes about spotting the northern hawk owl in this area, with comments from people all over the state.

A northern hawk owl—a species that is common to the boreal forest of Canada and Alaska—is spending the winter in Elkhorn. Express photo by Willy Cook

According to another site, owling.com, northern hawk owls can "usually be seen perched in a high vantage point, tree limb or even telephone pole, scanning for prey. This is a very bold, almost tame owl that seems focused on prey, and some times may be approached very close with little obvious fear or concern of people."

The northern hawk owl generally can be found in Northern Canada and Alaska. There have only been 12 sightings in the Lower 48 since people have kept record. All have been on the border of Canada and Idaho.

"They radiate, move from one area of food to another. It’s not your typical idea of migration. In certain years there’ll be a failure of food source and they’ll move," Sturges said. "But this is a southern record for one of these birds."

The northern hawk owl, Surnia ulula, is a fairly common bird of the boreal forest in Alaska, according to ornithology sources. A diurnal predatory bird, it is approximately 14 to 16 inches long with a Wingspan of 33 inches. The wings are large and, unlike those of most owls, pointed at the ends. The tail is very long for an owl and tapers at the end. When it flies, the pointed wings, long tail, and swift flight appear hawk-like, hence it’s name.

Iain Tomlinson, 32, rearranged his work schedule to drive 10 hours from his home in Portland, Ore., to see a northern hawk owl, spotted last week in Elkhorn Express photo by Willy Cook

The owl is apparently coming up with food around Highland Avenue in Elkhorn where it has been seen most often.

"He spotted, caught, and consumed a mouse at approx. 1:15 p.m. I am sure that the Elkhorn Village residents might be surprised at how many rodents he seems to be finding in their neighborhood; but he is still feeding," wrote Rick Nau of Emmett on the birdingonthe.net site.

Since it has no natural predators from the ground "it doesn’t look at us as a threat," Sturges said.

Traditional predators are northern goshawks, golden eagles or great horned owls.

"People shouldn’t try to harass, trap it or shoot it," Sturges said. It’s a federally protected bird.

The best time to see it is between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.



City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.