Following the successful inaugural Superb Owl Awards 2022, the competition that pays homage to the NFL finale is back and it’s bigger than ever. We’re talon you, you’re going to love it, as you could be in with a chance of winning $1,000 just for looking at photos of cute owls!
The first BonusFinder.com‘s Superb Owl Awards celebrated the best owl photography and artwork of the year. In 2022, Shelly Tellier took the prize for owl artist and Daniel Graovac swooped the prize for owl photographer of the year, both making it away with a holiday of a lifetime and of course, the coveted Superb Owl Trophy.
This year, we want the focus to be on the real stars of the show – the owls. So, for the first time ever, we will be crowning a real owl as the winner of the 2023 Superb Owl competition.
We’ve been sc-owl-ting the best owls across the USA, from zoos to wildlife sanctuaries and everything in between for entries to this year’s awards and we’ve whittled our entries down to 16 of the most majestic owls the USA has to offer. With $5,000 on offer to help support funding and the running of the zoo/sanctuary they call home, these top birds will now battle it out in a playoff elimination-style tournament, facing a series of four rounds before the most Superb Owl of all is crowned.
To help us crown our winner, one lucky person will be in with a chance of winning $1,000 simply for judging cute owl photos – who wouldn’t want to look at photos of cute owls? Anyone who casts a vote during the tournament will be automatically entered into our cash prize draw. What are you waiting for…
Welcoming our 2023 shortlist
Our entries have been narrowed down to just 16 birds who will battle it out across four-rounds.
Let us introduce you to our owls…
The Little Professor, Wild At Heart Zoo, Arizona
The Little Professor is one of the zoo’s “pygmy” owls, one of the smallest owls in the world. He is part of a captive breeding program, designed to help save this endangered owl species.
Amigo, Wild At Heart Zoo, Arizona
Amigo is a 12-year-old adult male Barn Owl and education bird. He was Wild at Heart Zoo’s very first Barn Owl and companion bird, or “amigo”.
Aladdin, Wild At Heart Zoo, Arizona
Aladdin has been with the Wild at Heart Zoo since spring 2017. Aladdin is an education owl for the zoo, participating in successful outreach programs that educate the general public on bird wildlife.
Priscilla, Austin Zoo, Texas
Between 2014 – 2016, Priscilla struggled to survive in the area surrounding San Angelo, Texas, but now she spends her days perched on a branch in her customized enclosure. Priscilla has been with Austin Zoo since January 2017 and is one of many animals at the zoo to have been rescued and rehabilitated over its 32 years of business.
Shorty, Alaska Zoo
Shorty first came to Alaska Zoo after being found near Bethel, Alaska with a wing injury. Although he can no longer fly, Shorty’s favorite thing to do is eat mice. Shorty’s other hobbies include looking very smug and hiding food in the corners of his enclosure.
Willow, Audubon Centre for Birds of Prey, Florida
Willow first arrived at Audubon Centre for Birds of Prey after a fall from his nest made him unable to survive in the wild. He now spends his time being an owl ambassador, teaching children and adults about owls, raptors, and the beauty of birds.
Sanford, Audubon Centre for Birds of Prey, Florida
Named after the city of Sanford, FL, this owl was found as a nestling with a fractured humerus. He quickly rose to social media stardom and hosts his own Facebook and Instagram, where he uses his platform to raise awareness for owl conservation.
Chili, Birmingham Zoo, Alabama
An animal ambassador for Birmingham Zoo, Chili has the important job of going out on outreach and educational programs to teach the general public about owls. Chili’s name comes from the fact she is a “red phase” Eastern Screech Owl, as the zoo wanted to bring attention to her striking colours!
Maggie, Memphis Zoo, Tennessee
Maggie is a 22-year-old owl from Memphis Zoo. Maggie is a talkative owl, always having a lot to say and enjoys long walks in the sun!
Southern White-Faced Owl, San Diego Zoo
Often found in the southern half of Africa, southern white-faced owls are not strong flyers and instead hop around on the ground in search of small prey. When faced with a predator they either spread their wings to appear bigger, or shrink to look sick and unappealing.
Long Eared Owl, San Diego Zoo
These long and slender owls are named for their distinctive ear tufts, which are used for helping them blend in with tree branches. Their true ears are under the feathers. Long-eared owls are widespread but their status in North America is not well known, due in part to their less conspicuous nature.
Clint Screechwood, The Zoo In Forest Park, Massachusetts
Clint Screechwood lives with permanent vision impairments that prevent him from living safely in the wild. The Zoo in Forest Park is focused on education, conservation and rehabilitation and works with wildlife rehabilitators across the country to provide permanent homes to animals that have been deemed non-releasable due to injury, illness, permanent disability, and other factors.
Grace, Utica Zoo, New York
Grace came to Utica Zoo in 2010 after a rehabber found her injured and unable to fly. She was deemed non-releasable due to the wing injury, with her wing later amputated. Grace is also the inspiration to children’s book “Grace the Owl”, after a local author learnt about her.
Archie, Zoo Miami, Florida
As one of the only Owl species that is awake during the day, you can almost always find Archie exploring the many burrows his keepers have provided him in his habitat. Aside from the diet of mice, bugs, and formulated meatballs, nothing excites Archie more than when an Anole Lizard enters his habitat to give fun enrichment and exercise.
Ron, Roosevelt Park Zoo, North Dakota
Ron is a screech owl who was injured in the wild before heading to Roosevelt Park Zoo. His injury, which left him blind in one eye, makes him ineligible for release as this would put him at a disadvantage while hunting. Not only does he live a full life at the zoo without having to worry about where to find sustenance, he also helps educate the local community on birds of prey and raptors.
Bea, The International Owl Centre, Houston, Minnesota
Bea is a bit of a character, as she loves nothing more than to watch YouTube videos of cats, showing mice and insects running across the screen, however, she finds squirrel videos very scary! She is always alert and responds to alarm calls of other bird species. Due to the harshness of Minnesota winters, Bea’s favorite place to get cozy is sitting on her reptile heat pad, covered with a fake fleece.
Now that the introductions are over, don’t forget to cast your vote above.
Making your vote count
During the four different stages of the competition, you will be able to cast one vote per day.
In the first round, our 16 owls will go head-to-head with each other, with only eight birds progressing through to the quarterfinals. From here, the remaining four owls will take to the stage during the semi-final which will see them battle it out for a spot in the finals.
Superb Owl Winners 2023
In addition to a lifetime of glory and the title of Superb Owl of the year, the winning owl will receive a huge $5,000 to help support funding and the running of their zoo / sanctuary, helping them to continue with the great work they already do.
Not forgetting the runner-up… we will be awarding $1,000 to the owl (and their zoo) who just misses out on the top spot.
History of the Superb Owl
Inspired by a typo that trends on the second Sunday of every February, the origins of the term are unclear. However, the Reddit community for Superb Owls was created in 2011 and in addition to the February spikes, stays active throughout the year. Upon its creation, the subreddit had two simple rules:
1) Image posts must contain an owl
2) Text posts must be about owls
The term’s first mainstream appearance came in 2014 when Stephen Colbert used it on his show’s Super Bowl coverage to avoid what he called “the wrath of a litigious NFL”. As the NFL is known for coming after anyone advertising or promoting the event without a license, by moving the “B” the show avoided trademark infringement and aired with the title “Colbert Report: Superb Owl XLVIII”.
In 2019, Superb Owl even got its own category in Jeopardy!
In the past few years, Google has also jumped in and used this trend ahead of the Super Bowl by showing cute cartoon owls on top of the Super Bowl score for those who were searching for “superb owl” (whether this was intentional or not).
Over the years, this misspelled word has inspired photographers from amateurs to those working for National Geographic. It has become so popular that it now takes over the internet every year around Super Bowl Sunday with zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, museums and news outlets across the globe posting images and facts about the nocturnal critters on social media.
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