MAITLAND, Fla. – Super Bowl is right around the corner and one contest is playing off the game, but with winged-players.
It’s called ‘Superb Owl’ and a Central Florida owl made it to the finals, vying for the title ‘Superb Owl 2023′ and a $5,000 donation to a charity that saved his life.
“He may be small, but his personality is Eagle size. He has a lot of attitude and he thinks he is a much bigger raptor than he is,” said education manager Daisy Fiore.
Sanford is an 11-year-old Screech Owl sitting at less than a half-pound.
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“Sanford is this beautiful rofous morph, but he also has a very unique eye color, stunning hazel eyes, which is pretty uncommon in screech owls,” Fiore said.
The tiny owl lives at Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland. Click HERE to vote for Sanford in the ‘Superb Owl’ contest.
“He was brought to us after he had fallen out of his nest as a fledgling, and he had injured one of his wings on the way down. He’s named after the area where he was found, Sanford,” Fiore said.
Fiore said even after rehab, Sanford is not fully flighted and can’t be released into the wild, so he serves as an Ambassador bird traveling to events and schools to educate the community about the importance of raptors.
“Owls are our pest control. They’re getting rid of a lot of the rodent and insect population that we don’t need, so we need to get them back into the wild as often as possible,” Fiore said.
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey treats about 800 local Florida Raptors each year, releasing most back into the wild. The center is open to the public for people to learn about the birds and watch their progress.
Sanford is also bringing awareness to the rescue center through a unique contest run by bonusfinder.com called ‘superb owl.’ It’s a play on the common internet search typo during Super Bowl season. Sixteen owls were selected from submitted photos, competing in a bracket-style competition based on votes. Sanford made it to the finals.
“I can’t say I’m surprised. Sanford’s incredible,” Fiore said.
“Last year, BonusFinder.com launched the first-ever Superb Owl awards after learning that every year, search engines are inundated with misspellings of a certain popular sporting event with a similar name 🏈. This led the term “Superb Owl” to trend across digital and social media on the second Sunday in February, or what is now known as Superb Owl day! This year, BonusFinder.com’s Superb Owl competition decided to celebrate the incredible conservation work happening throughout America, crowning an actual owl as this year’s winner. The cash prize provides a well-deserved donation to the owl’s home zoo/sanctuaries, rewarding the dedicated staff and enabling them to continue their fantastic work,” said Fintan Costello, Managing Director of BonusFinder.com.
The winner gets a $5,000 donation to their rescue organization. It’s money Fiore said can make a huge difference for birds in need.
“We’re coming into what we call ‘baby season’ and baby season is when all the wild raptors are nesting and having their babies and we’re going to get a lot of injured, misplaced, orphaned babies so during that season is when our cost skyrockets. Five-thousand dollars is the amount of money to rehab one bald eagle from the time it enters to the time it gets back to the wild, or help rehab about 40 screech owls like Sanford,” Fiore said.
Outside of voting for Sanford, Fiore said there are things we can all do to help reduce the number of winged patients that end up here at Audubon’s Trauma Clinic.
“Right now is Owl nesting season and a really important thing we can all do is not trim our trees this time of year. If you wait until the end of the summer or fall, it’s after Owl nesting season so you can make sure you’re not destroying nests or important habitats for Owls,” Fiore said.
Voting for ‘Superb Owl’ runs through February 11th with the winner being announced on February 12th, Super Bowl Sunday.
The winner receives a $5,000 donation to their organization and the runner-up gets $1,000.
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