That Sleeping Owl Photo Doing The Rounds Online Turns Out To Be... Real

Thus far there have bee two types of viral animal stories. One where it turns out that the information in the tweet was waaaay off (see this beehive story from last week) or elsewhere a seemingly cute video turns out to have a harrowing explanation (see the beluga whale playing fetch or, of course, shower rat).

However, we may have discovered a new genre of viral animal stories. This image of an owl lying face down apparently snoozing has recently been doing the rounds on Twitter and Reddit.

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It goes viral quite often. Everybody loves an owl that sleeps like people, and their freakily long legs are an added bonus (you do not want to see what an owl looks like naked). 

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But is it actually true? 

Turns out, it... is.

When it last went viral in 2019, others shared images of owls doing the same, including this great shot of an owl waking up like this and seeing the photographer.

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Nobody seems to know where the original photo came from, but this owl researcher confirmed that they'd seen this behavior in other owls.

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Internet sleuths also found confirmation from an episode of BirdNote, from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which tells the tale of a listener who found two Barred owlets on the ground near his home. They had fallen to the ground after being harassed by ravens, and after seeking advice from the Connecticut Audubon center, he popped them back in their tree. 

Once they were back up there, he observed them taking a well-earned nap.

"What he saw delighted him," host Mary McCann for BirdNote said. "Keeping their talons tightly gripped on a branch, the owlets lie down on their stomachs, turned their heads to the side, and fell asleep. Their naps are short, and when they are asleep, they do not like to be awakened, even to be fed.

A young owl doesn’t fall out of the tree while it snoozes, because its back toe, the hallux, holds onto the branch. The hallux will not open or let go until the bird bends its leg."

It turns out you can trust what you read on the Internet. But probably only this once.

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