Superb Owl meme: The misspelling that turned into a meme

Too late.

Instead of Super Bowl news, one little typo later and your search results are filled with owl content instead. And we would like to encourage you to look into the error. Because owls are really “superb”.

These birds are a far cry from football, but over the years the trend has grown in popularity. So much so that many people flood the internet with pre-Super Bowl photos of owls 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, which ultimately helps raise awareness, said Matt Williams, conservation director for the Indiana chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“I say anything that helps get the message out about the importance of conservation is a good thing,” he said.

An icy predator

Owls are quite interesting. Some people think they’re innocent furballs, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, Williams said.

“Owls are voracious predators that hunt primarily at night using a highly developed sense of hearing to help locate their prey,” he said in an email.

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Their disc-shaped faces direct sound toward their ears, allowing them to hear the quietest noises, Williams explained. Their feathers are designed to make them almost completely silent when flying, a useful trick for sneaking up on their prey, he added.

Most owls are content to feast on small mammals like mice and shrews, said Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.

Some large owls like the great horned owl can catch rabbits, skunks or even other owls, Williams said.

Super Bowl Owl Mascots

The Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals may already have their own mascots, but there’s no harm in adding owls to the mix.

Williams thought the barred owl might represent the Bengals because the birds share a stripe pattern similar to the team’s helmets.

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“For the Rams, I would have to say the snowy owl of Harry Potter fame because their quarterback Matthew Stafford has been a wizard during their playoff run so far,” he explained.

Magle assigned the Eastern Screech-Owl to the Bengals because he is in Ohio and shares a similar team color.

The California spotted owl would go great with the Rams, he added.

“He has a four-note call sometimes described as ‘hup, hoo-hoo, hooo,’ which appears to be an audible call at the line of scrimmage,” Magle said.

See an owl in the wild

Your experience with owls doesn’t have to be limited to the internet. Communities across the United States hold educational nocturnal animal events that include a nature walk.

The Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania held a special Superb Owl event on the Saturday of Super Bowl weekend.

The Leslie Science & Nature Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will host an owl event on Sunday morning. The center will exhibit resident owls and people will be able to dissect owl pellets, which are the undigested parts of their meal that they regurgitate.

Why not venture outside this weekend to get to know these fascinating creatures? It will be a hoot.

Meet great owls now

There are over 250 species of owls and we would like to introduce you to some of our favorites.

The great gray owl eschews the traditional hoots in favor of a low-pitched hoot.
Many people think that all owls emit a hoot, but this is not the case. The great gray owl doesn’t hoot, Williams says, but rather makes a series of low-voiced “hoos.”
The short-eared owl chooses a variety of landscapes to settle in.
The short-eared owl is found in grasslands and wetlands, unlike most other owls that live in forests, Williams said.
If you're hoping to hear a howling owl, keep an eye out for the barred owl.
Barred owls are very vocal birds that can often be heard making the traditional hooting noise, said Charles Eldermire, Bird Cams project manager at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
When you think of an owl with bright eyes and an impressive face, you probably think of the great horned owl.
Great horned owls are known for their signature ear tufts and cat eyes, Eldermire said. You can watch what happens in the nest of a pair of great horned owls near Savannah, Georgia, on a live webcam.
The burrowing owl marches to the beat of its own drum.
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 and makes its home on the ground, Magle said.

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