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Gorgeous owl. No wait, Super Bowl.
Instead of Super Bowl information, a minor typo later and your search results will be filled with owl content instead. And we want to encourage you to lean into the error. Because owls really are “fantastic”.
These birds are a long way from football, but over the years, the trend has become significantly more popular. So much so that many people flood the internet with photos of owls before the Super Bowl every year. (And you know what a gathering of owls is called, right? A parliament.)
This internet phenomenon is putting these feathered creatures in the spotlight, ultimately promoting awareness, said Matt Williams, director of conservation at the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
“I’m saying anything that helps get the message out about the importance of conservation is a good thing,” he said.
Owls are quite interesting. Some people think they’re harmless fluff, but that couldn’t be less true, Williams said.
“Owls are voracious predators that usually hunt at night with very keen hearing to help locate their prey,” he said in an email.
Their disc-shaped faces direct the sound to their ears, allowing them to hear the quietest sounds, Williams explained. Their feathers are designed to make them almost completely still when they fly, a handy trick for stalking their prey, he added.
Most owls are content to feast on small mammals such as mice and shrews, said Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Some larger owls like the great horned owl can grab rabbits, skunks or even other owls, Williams said.
The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals may already have their own mascots, but it wouldn’t hurt to add some owls to the mix.
Williams thought the Barred Owl might represent the Bengal because the birds have a similar stripe pattern to the team’s helmets.
“For the Rams, I’d have to call the snowy owl of Harry Potter fame, as their quarterback Matthew Stafford has been a wizard so far during their playoff run,” he explained.
Magle assigned the Eastern Screech Owl to the Bengals because it is found in Ohio and is the same color as the team.
The California spotted owl would be a great fit for the Rams, he added.
“It has a four-note call that is sometimes described as ‘hup, hoo-hoo, hooo,’ which seems like it could be an audible call on the line of scrimmage,” Magle said.
Your experience with owls doesn’t have to be limited to the internet. Communities across the United States host educational events about the nocturnal animals, including a nature walk.
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, offered a special Superb Owl event on Saturday of the Super Bowl weekend.
The Leslie Science & Nature Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an owl event will take place on Sunday morning. Owls will be on display at the center and people will be able to dissect owl pellets, the undigested portions of their meal they regurgitated.
Why not get out and about this weekend to get to know these fascinating creatures? It will be a hoot.
There are over 250 species of owls and we’d like to introduce you to some of our favorites.
Many people think that all owls make a honk, but that is not the case. The great gray owl doesn’t honk, Williams said, but rather makes a series of “hoots” in a low pitch.
The short eared owl can be found in prairies and wetlands, unlike most other owls that live in forests, Williams said.
Barred owls are highly vocal birds that can often be heard making the traditional hooting, said Charles Eldermire, Bird Cams project leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
The Burrowing Owl lives its life the opposite of most owls. Rather than being active at night and living in trees, this bird spends the day awake making its home on the ground, Magle said.