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For some reason, they've ended up as cute fluffy things in popular culture (thanks Etsy and Anthropologie!)
ghow fledgling_2982

And okay, they are kind of cute and fluffy sometimes.  But to anyone who is actually cute and fluffy, these eyes mean trouble.

ghow_4749 eyes

You eyes are probably drawn to the owl's eyes, or the alert "ears", but ignore this Great Horned Owl's giant talons at your peril.


The "ears" aren't really ears, they're just tufts of feathers that create that appearance.  I don't know why so many owls developed this look; perhaps it helps break up the appearance of their face and help them blend into the tree trunks where they perch.  Maybe it gives them a cat-like appearance to warn other birds not to bother them while they're sleeping, but I think looking like an owl is probably sufficient to scare anything.

More staring, more scary talons, but somehow the Long-eared Owl looks a little less dangerous.  Maybe that's how owls' images get softened.


OK, it's probably the Barn Owls' fault that people think owls are cute.  I guess it can't be helped.


No - must resist!  Scary birds!!  Owls = danger, not fluffiness!


Still, hard to get the threat vibe going with these two Burrowing Owls.


These two know they can't intimidate based on size, so I guess they're trying for a "Street Tough" image.

ss buows

It's harder to think of a bird as intimidating once it's crossed the meme barrier though.

coffee owls

(It's not impossible though - I still think of Coopers Hawks as intimidating even though they are meme stars.  That may be because I happen to know the bird personally... and Dawn Choristers knew her before she was a star.)

And speaking of stars, Hedwig made these guys a lot less scary to most people.  A vole feels differently about it though.


I think I'll end with double trouble...

1877 ghow pair 3

Originally posted to lineatus on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching and Shutterbugs.

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