These birds are a long way from football, but over the years the trend has gained significant popularity. So much so, that many people flood the Internet with photos of owls before the Super Bowl each year. (And you know what an owl gathering is called, right? A parliament.)
This internet phenomenon puts these feathery creatures in the spotlight, which ultimately helps raise awareness, said Matt Williams, conservation director for The Nature Conservancy’s Indiana Chapter.
“I’m saying anything that helps get the message across about the importance of conservation is a good thing,” he said.
A cold blooded predator
Owls are quite interesting. Some people think they are innocent balls of fluff, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, Williams said.
“Owls are voracious predators that hunt primarily at night using a very acute sense of hearing to help locate prey,” he said in an email.
Their disk-shaped face directs sound into their ears, allowing them to hear the quietest noises, Williams explained. Their feathers are designed to make them almost completely silent when they fly, a useful trick for sneaking up on prey, she added.
Most owls are content to feast on small mammals like mice and shrews, said Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Super Bowl Owl Mascots
The Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals may already have mascots of their own, but there’s nothing wrong with adding a few owls to the mix.
Williams thought the barred owl could represent the Bengals because the birds share a similar stripe pattern as the team’s helmets.
“For the Rams, I’d have to say the snowy owl of Harry Potter fame because their quarterback, Matthew Stafford, has been a wizard during his playoff run so far,” he explained.
Magle assigned the eastern owl to the Bengals because it is located in Ohio and shares a similar color to the team.
The California spotted owl would be a great fit for the Rams, he added.
“He’s got a four-note call that’s sometimes described as ‘hup, hoo-hoo, hooo,’ which sounds like it could be an audible call at the line of scrimmage,” Magle said.
See an owl in the wild
Your experience with owls does not have to be limited to the Internet. Communities across the United States are hosting educational events about nocturnal animals that include a nature walk.
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania hosted a special Superb Owl event on the Saturday of Super Bowl weekend.
Why not venture outdoors this weekend to meet these fascinating creatures? It will be a hit.
Now meet some gorgeous owls
There are more than 250 species of owls and we would like to introduce you to some of our favorites.