Her name is Alice, and she’s a Great Horned Owl. She’s also the reason why every year, in the first week of March, the International Festival of Owls takes place in Houston, Minnesota. Attracting a crowd plucked from around the world, fans of the raptor gather to celebrate everything owl. There are live owls on site, owl crafts, bird watching activities, owl-themed projects, and activities for young and old alike. The 2017 festival takes place from March 3 – March 5 and features weekend events held at multiple locations, including the International Owl Center and Houston High School. The International Festival of Owls is one of Minnesota’s highlights of the year and a bird lover’s dream.
According to the International Festival of Owls website, Alice was three-weeks-old when she fell out of her nest and became permanently disabled. She works at the Houston Nature Center with her handler Karla Bloem and quickly became a popular attraction. Alice was the only live animal at the Houston Nature Center, and her fame quietly spread. Karla wanted to celebrate Alice’ birth and created a hatch-day party. Alice hatched the first week in March, so that was when her hatch day celebration was held. Due to Alice’s popularity, the hatch day grew into a full-blown festival, and now Karla Bloem is the director of the International Owl Center. The Festival of Owls continues to include a hatch day party for Alice. Alice might miss her party this year, though. She has laid eggs in February and is currently on maternity leave.
Two other permanently injured owls have joined Alice in her work at the Nature Center, and they are named Iris and Rusty. There are live streaming cams featuring Iris and Rusty hosted by the International Owl Center. You may watch the live owl cams online.
Happened upon the @international owl center on Houston, Mn, and met Alice, a great horned owl, on her way to class. pic.twitter.com/HRiM8lO7fi
— Iowa Bird of Mouth (@iowabirdofmouth) October 1, 2016
The Houston Nature Center described Alice the Great Horned Owl and Karla Bloem on the history portion of their website.
“One of Houston Nature Center’s earliest celebrities was Alice the Great-horned Owl. Together, she and Karla attracted visitors to the center and put on educational nature and wildlife programs and events. In 2015, Bloem moved the owl-based education and programming from the Houston Nature Center to the International Owl Center.”
According to an article by the Winona Post, the festival will include the U.S. premiere of the movie The Secret Life of Owls that includes Alice and Karla Bloem. You may see videos from the International Owl Center below. Don’t miss the sneak peek of Alice and Karla below.
You can watch several live owl cams that stream 24 hours per day in the video playlist below.
The International Festival of Owls offers a weekend jam-packed with educational, creative, and fun activities that help introduce people to these magnificent birds. You can find a full schedule with detailed information regarding festival events on the official website. In addition to showing the movie, The Secret Life of Owls, other popular activities and events scheduled include interacting with live owls, painting original owl art, chainsaw carving owl sculptures, a story walk that begins at the public library featuring the classic book, Owl Moon, and an owl pancake breakfast. Participants who sign up can create their own nesting boxes to encourage owl breeding.
A homeschooling family in Oklahoma set up a nest box on their porch and attracted a great horned owl who continues to nest there. You may see videos from Alessondra’s Great Horned owl cam below. Who knows how many festival attendees who build nest boxes will have owls take seasonal residence and lay eggs. Are you attending the International Festival of Owls? If not, are you going to participate in any owl-related activities this weekend?
[Featured Image by Don Mammoser/Shutterstock]