Looking for the Superb Owl? It's right here in Minnesota

A snowy owl wakes up from anesthesia
A snowy owl wakes up from anesthesia after a checkup and physical therapy inside the University of Minnesota Gabbert Raptor Center in St. Paul on Dec. 12, 2017.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2017

Updated: Feb. 1, 10:57 a.m. | Posted: 8 p.m., Jan. 29

It's that time of year again when everyone is asking Google about the "Superb Owl," thanks to a fowl mistype.

A graph showing the spikes in searches for 'Superb Owl' over the years.
A graph showing the spikes in searches for 'Superb Owl' over the years.
Via Google Trends

Many people are really searching for info about the big football game on Sunday, but, you know, typing too fast can really change a search.

Meanwhile, owl enthusiasts who don't give a hoot about the game have embraced the spike, taking the opportunity to post plenty of pictures or drawings of the birds.

Luckily, Minnesota is the place to be because we're not only ground zero for the big game, we're also home to some pretty superb owls.

Also, a viral Photoshop prank. This photo made the rounds on social media Monday, supposedly showing a tram at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport:

The Metropolitan Airports Commission said that image is fake.

An airport tram advertising the Super Bowl.
A tram at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport advertising the Super Bowl.
Courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

WFAA-TV reports the joke started in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Aviation Spotting group on Facebook, when a commenter asked for a Photoshop job. For birders in Minnesota, one prime spot to see snowy owls is the airport.

And now, without feather ado, the superb owls of Minnesota:

Birders aflutter over snowy owl 'irruption'

A snowy owl receives anesthesia for a check up.
A snowy owl receives anesthesia for a checkup and physical therapy inside the University of Minnesota's Gabbert Raptor Center on Dec. 12, 2017, in St. Paul.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2017

Every few years there are so-called "irruptions" of snowy owls to Minnesota and other northern states, when the majestic raptors flock south from the Arctic tundra. This winter's could be an especially big one.

And they're getting themselves into some pretty wacky predicaments. Like getting trapped in a coffee roasting machine. Another was rescued from a biomass power plant in Grand Rapids. One died after getting rescued from the grill of a car on Interstate 494 in Bloomington.

For birders, snowy owl irruption is best seen at MSP airport

A snowy owl is seen through a spotting scope.
An immature female snowy owl is seen sitting on a building through the lens of Sharon Stiteler's spotting scope at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Jan. 8, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

"To many northern species," wrote Sharon Stiteler in Audubon magazine, "the stark, flat space of an airfield resembles their home on the Arctic tundra."

The best time to see them is between Thanksgiving and Easter, and MSP airport has an official aircraft viewing area that is used as much by birders as aviation enthusiasts.

Owl feeding controversy ruffles feathers

A great gray owl takes flight north of Two Harbors, Minn.
A great gray owl takes flight Feb. 28, 2017, north of Two Harbors, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News 2017

Wildlife photographers opposed to feeding say it's dishonest. It doesn't capture owls behaving naturally. And they argue it habituates owls to humans. But others say they don't see any damage in feeding owls. They point out there haven't been any studies documenting how owls have been harmed.

Christmas bird count turns 118

A great gray looks up after plunging into the snow.
A great gray looks up after plunging into the snow Feb. 28, 2017, while hunting north of Two Harbors, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News

For 118 years now, the Audubon Society has used people power around the country to hold a census of birds.

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