One of the Rarest Owls Taken, Owl Taken From British Columbia

Piles of Glass Insulators Are Found


Publication: The New York Times

New York, NY, United States


A Prize Much Valued by the University of Washington.

From the Spokane (Washington) Spokesman-Review.


A specimen of the rarest owl in America was obtained by Henry H. Hindshaw, curator of the University of Washington's museum, on his recent natural history expedition to Eastern Washington. The only other specimen of this owl was taken in Idaho in 1893. It was sent to Dr. C. Hart Merriam of the United States Department of Agriculture, who pronounced it a distinct geographical variety of Megascops flammeola. He thereupon described it as a variety new to science, and called it Megascops flammeola idahoensis. That specimen is a male. On May 25 Mr. Hindshaw saw a strange little owl on Snake River, about twenty-five miles from its mouth, and after great difficulty secured it. It is a female of this rarest of American owls. Its common name is the Idaho dwarf screech owl. Megascops flammeola, the type of this owl, is a Mexican species, and is found only occasionally in Colorado and New-Mexico. This little owl is one of the finest specimens obtained by the University of Washington collectors in years.

Another most interesting member of the owl family was recently taken on the university grounds. Early in June Mr. Hindshaw obtained a fine pair of Megascops asio kennicottii, or Kennicott's screech owl. This owl was never before taken outside of British Columbia, so far as is known, and it is interesting for the history it suggests. It was discovered in British Columbia by "Bob" Kennicott and named in his honor. Mr. Kennicott was in charge of the Western Union Telegraph Company's expedition to extend a line of telegraph to Europe by way of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and Siberia, as it was then, about 1857, expected that the Atlantic cable would prove a failure. They are now occasionally found in the forests of the Northwest piles of glass insulators and other reminders of this abandoned enterprise.

Mr. Kennicott went on to the far north, and was the first man to ascend the Yukon River. He died on that river. W. H. Dall, now a famous scientist and author of the Smithsonian Institution, was a young member of the party, and he brought the body of Kennicott out of the Alaskan wilderness. Many times the only thing that saved the party was " 'Bob' Kennicott's famous big medicine," a large watch with many singular attachments. By showing this to the natives, the party would be ferried on toward civilization. They finally reached San Francisco, and the remains of the explorer were sent to his home, in Chicago, by way of Panama. The history of this expedition was published by the Chicago Academy of Sciences. When the book was printed a copy was hastily bound and sent to Mr. Kennicott's mother, who lived just outside of Chicago, and another unbound copy was sent away for proof reading. On the following day Chicago was destroyed by fire, and no other copies of this interesting record have ever been printed. Some time the Chicago Academy of Sciences may reprint the volume. All this is suggested by a wise-looking pair of little screech owls in the university museum."


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:February 22, 2008 by: David Wiecek;