CLEVELAND, Ohio — Tampa's Raymond James Stadium is ready and final practices are underway, but not all will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday. Instead, they'll be searching for the "Superb Owl."
"It's kind of like a treasure hunt, you know, to finally find an owl in the wild", researcher Ryan Wickiser, who studies the rare spotted owl out west, said.
Here in Ohio, owls are all around, if you can find them.
Diane Siman has a resident owl in her backyard she has heard, but not seen.
"They blend in so well," she explained. "So you can be out there thinking you're not going to see them. and then all of a sudden..."
Boom, there it is! Diana and her sister spotted and photographed this barred owl on a recent hike.
In Ohio, you might see great horned owls and long-eared owls, along with barred, screech, and saw-whet owls. One winter migrant to our state is the beautiful short-eared owl, with the image below captured by nature photographer Coeli Ingold. Snowy owls have returned to Ohio, as well, and they are truly superb.
Finding owls takes skill and patience, but when you see one in the wild, it's something you'll never forget. Jordan Braun is an avid birder and photographer.
"It's one of those things to where you feel a sense of accomplishment after you see one," avid birder and photographer Jordan Braun said. "If you get a good picture, you get to sit back and get the feeling of, 'I did that!'"
"Superb Owl" Sunday is growing in popularity with nature lovers across the country. There's just something about owls.
"Not to sound corny, but it's kind of magical." Wickiser said.
Diana remembered how excited she was when she saw that barred owl
"It's like, 'Oh my gosh! There he is!'"
To many, owls are much more important than football. Jordan likes both and will be watching the big game on Sunday, but he makes a great point about the secretive, regal, awe-inspiring birds.
"In the end, can you tell me who won the Super Bowl 10 years ago?" he asked. "Probably not, but what you will be able to tell me is the moment you saw the snowy owl for the first time."
He's absolutely right.