Saw-whet Owl in burrow, Barn Owl "carrying" football

A clash of talons and tail-feathers: the Superb Owl

As the world gears up for one of the most anticipated events in sports, we’re here to celebrate the athleticism of a different kind of MVP – the owl!

This Most Valuable Percher has captured the hearts of enthusiastic birdwatchers.

Owl fans crowd the natural nighttime “stadium” of owls just to catch a glimpse of these star athletes.

A devoted fandom of birders and nature enthusiasts, these fans unite to support the conservation of all owls (despite some disagreement over which owl is most superb or most cute).

How do these athletes inspire such passionate support?

It’s all in the arm! Uh…we mean wing!

Barn Owl with dead mouse in talons
Barn Owl

Embodying an athlete’s physical prowess and a predator’s cunning, owls use their precise vision and silent flight to outmaneuver and outsmart their opponents.

The owl’s game plan usually ends in a victorious touchdown for them and a tragic loss for their prey.

Owl attack snow print, with a ski pole for scale.
Owl attack snow print, with a ski pole for scale.

But the owl’s appeal isn’t just about strategy and victory – like their football counterparts, a large part of their popularity is due to their showmanship.

Masters of aerial acrobatics, their flying is a model of elegant and graceful athleticism. So much so, they could star in their own extravagant halftime show!

While owls may not wow with their singing (like other halftime show songbirds), their call can still bring fans to their feet as they try to spot these unique birds.

A real David-and-Goliath situation

We move now to our reporter live at the stadium…

The long and difficult struggle for the title of Superb Owl Champion may finally be decided today. This battle for ultimate victory (at least for this year) determines HOO will come out on top.

And now, a word from the referees: “We’re warning you – we don’t want to see any FOWL play, so play to your talons and rely on your wingmen for support.”

The team captains are now flying out into the stadium – displaying an impressive swiftness – and are ready to be introduced to the fans.

Barn Owl – Tyto alba

A member from the Tytonidae family, this owl’s hometown is mostly open country, preferably pastures, marshes, meadows, farms, or barns. A franchise player, this owl is instantly recognizable due to its almost heart-shaped face, white feathers, and dark eyes.

It seems that this nighttime hunter is just watching and listening, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. The Barn Owl’s a strategic player. It seeks prey by flying low over open ground before making a quick strike.

Barn Owl perched on rock
Barn Owl

Off the hunting field, home team fans and rival fans have created many superstitions around the Barn Owl due to its ghostly face, signature rasping shrieks, and tendency to hang out in eerie locations like church belfries.

Despite these superstitions, farmers who find themselves neighbours to a Barn Owl are in luck – this superb listener can strike their preferred prey (mice and rats) in total darkness.

The Barn Own is certainly a player you’d want on your team!

Northern Saw-whet Owl – Aegolius acadicus

One of TEN Ontarian team members in the Strigidae family, the Northern Saw-whet Owl prefers habitats with dense cover, usually coniferous forests. Birders sometimes spot this owl sitting still, as if trying to be overlooked.

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl

This unobtrusive nightime hunter waits on low perches, swooping down on its prey at exactly the right moment for victory!

According to fans, the Northern Saw-whet Owl is “the cutest little owl to ever exist.” The owl’s feathers are warm brown, with reddish streaks on a white breast.

At about 18 cm tall (7 inches), this owl is viewed by fans as the underdog in this year’s Superb Owl competition.

Due to this owl’s “adorable” appearance, the Strigidae family’s team mascot is even modeled after it. Sammy the Saw-whet Owl has proved extremely popular with the fans, showing that this player is one to watch.

collage of Northern Saw-whet Owl and saw-whet owl stuffed animal, both perched in trees
Spot the difference… we bet you can’t!

Now that the captains have been introduced and the teams have warmed up their wings…

Let the game begin!

HOO will be crowned Superb Owl Champion? Share your vote (and your photos of these celebrity athletes) with us on social media!

And if you’re lucky enough to see a superb owl this season, make sure to keep your distance and move farther away if they appear disturbed. A stressed-out athlete can’t perform at their best. No paparazzi, please!

Want to take home a piece of Superb Owl memorabilia? Pick up a Sammy the Saw-Whet Owl stuffed animal on our store!