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So, someone I don't know shared this photo with a group and someone in the group shared it with me. It's being reported as long-eared owl... and they're talking about it as if it's really rare there. I went and looked at the eBird maps and they're not THAT uncommon there this time of year. So I know that much.

What I'd like to be educated on is specific differences between them and great horned owls. Overall size and shape are pretty easy... unless you can't really get a good feel... The facial markings make me think it's indeed long-eared... but the bulky pose it's giving has me thinking great horned is possible.  When you look at a field guide it feels so easy, they look so different... til you focus on one mark after another... then they become fairly similar.
So, overall size and shape, facial disks, and markings on the wings are some ways to tell them apart...
What else? Are there any other subtle or not so subtle differences a person could go by? Especially when they don't have all the right looks at the bird.

I guarantee someone replies simply stating which bird it is rather than reading the entire post to get an idea of what I'm asking. I would appreciate confirmation on which it is... but more specifically, I want some details to help me better distinguish such things. 🙂 
Side note... how many people knew you could simply select "copy" on an image you're viewing(in this case, in the snip and sketch tool) and then "paste" as you're typing here and it starts uploading the image?

image.thumb.png.f4e6ecf46ec5290c9bf37da85990e535.png

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Great-horned Owl

I did a double take on this one! The barring on the breast looks closer to Long-eared, but the other characteristics of a Great-horned are there. One good separator between the two is whether it has a vertical black eyestripe or not. This bird lacks one, which points to Great-horned. Also, LEOW have orange eyes, while GHOW have yellow. Also, on the ear tufts, a LEOW would have orange on the inside border, while a GHOW will have the same color as its forehead, which depends on the subspecies or regional variation in coloration. It's kinda hard to see, but this bird also has a large white throat patch, something a LEOW lacks. If you look at the field guide depictions, you can also see some subtle facial pattern differences as well, though they are hard to explain. Also, when actively hunting and not in camouflage posture, LEOW have a "surprised" look on their face, while Great-horneds kinda always look sleepy.

Hope that helps! Great shots by the way! 

Edited by Avery
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39 minutes ago, Avery said:

Great-horned Owl

I did a double take on this one! The barring on the breast looks closer to Long-eared, but the other characteristics of a Great-horned are there. One good separator between the two is whether it has a vertical black eyestripe or not. This bird lacks one, which points to Great-horned. Also, LEOW have orange eyes, while GHOW have yellow. Also, on the ear tufts, a LEOW would have orange on the inside border, while a GHOW will have the same color as its forehead, which depends on the subspecies or regional variation in coloration. It's kinda hard to see, but this bird also has a large white throat patch, something a LEOW lacks. If you look at the field guide depictions, you can also see some subtle facial pattern differences as well, though they are hard to explain. Also, when actively hunting and not in camouflage posture, LEOW have a "surprised" look on their face, while Great-horneds kinda always look sleepy.

Hope that helps! Great shots by the way! 

Agreed with great horned 

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This is a Long-eared Owl, but one in an atypical posture. The horizontal barring and vertical streaks in the breast pattern is not found on GHOW. Also, the bright orange facial disk is more widely found in LEOWs in N.A. than on GHOWs (regionally variable). The ear tufts are moderately close together as well, which supports LEOW.

1 hour ago, Avery said:

The barring on the breast looks closer to Long-eared

This is very typical LEOW lower breast/belly pattern.

 

1 hour ago, Avery said:

Also, LEOW have orange eyes, while GHOW have yellow.

In N.A., LEOW irides are yellow. Old world LEOWs show orange.

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28 minutes ago, DLecy said:

This is a Long-eared Owl, but one in an atypical posture. The horizontal barring and vertical streaks in the breast pattern is not found on GHOW. Also, the bright orange facial disk is more widely found in LEOWs in N.A. than on GHOWs (regionally variable). The ear tufts are moderately close together as well, which supports LEOW.

This is very typical LEOW lower breast/belly pattern.

 

In N.A., LEOW irides are yellow. Old world LEOWs show orange.

Sorry about that @millipede. I knew that barring looked off for Great-horned. Good to know about the eye color. Is the verticale eye stripe not always seen on NA LEOW? I’m seeing photos of both on Macaulay

And yeah, @AlexHenry I totally agree!

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3 hours ago, Avery said:

Sorry about that.

I wouldn't sweat it, this photo was confusing. As Alex stated, this ID can be interestingly tricky in photos, especially where the bird is partially obscured.

At first glance at this picture on my phone, I thought it was possibly of a GHOW who had predated a LEOW, as is known to happen. Had to get home and look at it on my computer to better see the bird.

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11 hours ago, millipede said:

Side note... how many people knew you could simply select "copy" on an image you're viewing(in this case, in the snip and sketch tool) and then "paste" as you're typing here and it starts uploading the image?

Side response - It never occurred to me that people didn’t know that.  I’m glad you passed it on!

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2 minutes ago, chipperatl said:

I’ve never seen a photo of one that relaxed.  I assumed their heads were narrower and taller, all the time.  

That’s they’re camouflage posture. Yeah this bird is in a very odd posture, which made the ID tough. 

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