The International Owl Center in Houston, Minnesota
The International Owl Center is found in the quaint town of Houston, Minnesota. Through their dedication to education and research, the team at the Owl Center hopes to improve the world for owls by showing people how their actions impact owls and inform everyone on how fascinating these creatures truly are. They are currently the only all-owl education center in the United States. This has brought attention from all over the world. In addition to their Center that features live owls, staff-presented programs, a scavenger hunt for children, owl live streams, mounted owls, and a gift shop, there is also an impressive collection of artwork from children across the world that can be found in the center and around town. Houston has welcomed owl lovers by featuring 12 public owl sculptures and street banners based on these artwork designs.
There are currently four owl species that you will be able to spot at the International Owl Center: Ruby the Great Horned Owl, Piper the American Barn Owl, JR the Eastern Screech-Owl, and Uhu the Eurasian Eagle Owl. These birds commute to “work” each morning in the Owlmobile van and spend their days with their fans either in their enclosure or on their perch. While not “working” at the Owl Center, they each have their own aviaries just outside of town where they are able to live free, call to the wild owls at night, and watch the other wildlife.
FACT TO KNOW: While American Barn Owls, like Piper, are endangered in some states, they don’t even make it on the endangered list in Minnesota because they are so rare.
Through the staff-presented program, you will learn about how to distinguish owl species apart from one another through their shape, size, and sound. You can even sign up to go on an owl prowl to see these different species out in the wild. Owl prowls are currently hosting smaller groups and promoting social distancing by having participants drive their own vehicles to 3-4 known owl territories. At these stops, staff will help participants identify and call to the wild owls.
The International Festival of Owls is an annual festival in the spring that the Owl Center puts on. The next anticipated festival dates are March 5-7, 2021. Entries are sent in from across the world for the children’s international owl art contest. It brings in an impressive amount of talented artwork. Top owl experts come in to speak at the festival and receive an award in the World Owl Hall of Fame. This display is also featured at the Owl Center.
The International Owl Center just recently acquired their future building site for a larger facility. This center will be able to support on-site aviaries so there will no need to commute to “work”. Additionally, this new facility should enable the center to support even more live owls.
The staff at the International Owl Center wants to get others as excited about owls as they are. If you have not had the pleasure of visiting their center in downtown Houston, make sure you plan your trip! Tickets can be bought ahead of time on their website, and pre-registration is suggested to ensure availability.