A friend shared this photo of a gorgeous little blue owl. I was captivated but also a bit skeptical. Is this really a blue owl? Are they really finding new species of owls in the Philippines? Or is this a flight of fancy?
In an 2012 article published by Michigan State University (MSU), MSU assistant professor of zoology and assistant curator of mammalogy and ornithology at the MSU Museum, Pam Rasmussen said, “More than 15 years ago we realized that new subspecies of hawk-owls existed in the Philippines. But it wasn’t until last year  that we obtained enough recordings that we could confirm that they were not just subspecies, but two new species of owls.”
Next, meet the formerly “extinct” Cebu Hawk-owl (Ninox ramseyi) once more alive and well. (Can you believe how often this happens?! See my other articles regarding other “formerly extinct” animals.) Before the forests of Cebu were decimated by deforestation, the owls were quite plentiful. It seems some of them were able to survive. (Photo below.)
Both owls are related to other, more plentiful owl species in their areas. Scientists estimate there are 17-20 species of owls in the Philippines.
So how can scientists be sure these are new species? By their songs. Amazingly, owls don’t learn songs, they come pre-recorded (if you will) in their DNA. So they don’t even have to think about the noise they make, it just comes naturally.
Owl songs are distinct between species so after finally getting enough recordings of the Camiguin Hawk-owl and the Cebu Hawk-owl to satisfy the scientific community at large, the researchers can positively state they found two new species of owls.
Did you notice something? That’s right, neither of these owls are blue. (Image right, Cebu Hawk-owl is top left and Camiguin Hawk-owl is bottom right.)
Blue Owls Schmoo Owls!
Some clown has done it to us again. That first picture wasn’t a blue owl. In fact, it’s a Northern Saw-whet owl, that lives only in North America. I think I found the picture they altered to make the blue version. (It’s pretty close.) See below:
This owl wasn’t the only one to be painted blue by some dope. Look at the Snopes article in the References section below and you’ll see yet another Photoshopped wonder.
Why do people feel they need to improve upon nature? I think these real owls are amazing. Wouldn’t you agree?