These birds are a far cry 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 a gathering of owls is called, right? A parliament.)
This internet phenomenon puts these feathery creatures in the spotlight, which ultimately aids awareness, said Matt Williams, director of conservation with 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.
A stone-cold 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 mostly at night using a very keen sense of hearing to help locate their prey,” he said in an email.
Their disc-shaped face directs sound to their ears, which allows 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 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 the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Super Bowl owl mascots
The Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals may already have their own mascots, but there’s no harm in adding some owls into the mix.
Williams thought the barred owl could represent the Bengals because the birds share a similar stripe pattern to 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 their playoff run so far,” he explained.
Magle assigned the Eastern screech owl to the Bengals because it’s found in Ohio and shares a similar color to the team.
The California spotted owl would fit quite nicely with the Rams, he added.
“It has a four-note call sometimes described as ‘hup, hoo-hoo, hooo,’ which seems like it could be an audible called at the line of scrimmage,” Magle said.
See an owl in the wild
Your experience with owls doesn’t have be limited to the internet. Communities around the United States are hosting educational events about the nocturnal animals that include a nature walk.
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, offered a special Superb Owl event on Saturday of Super Bowl weekend.
Why not venture outdoors this weekend so you can get to know these fascinating creatures? It’ll be a hoot.
Now meet some superb owls
There are over 250 owl species, and we’d like to introduce you to some of our favorites.