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Houston, Minn., Owl Festival Winners span four continents

Fri, Feb 15th, 2013
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

Wildlife species know no borders, and this year’s award winners at the 11th Annual International Festival of Owls in Houston, Minn. reflect that global outlook.

The top award winner in the World Owl Hall of Fame – the Champion of Owls -- is a zoologist from Bavaria. Two Special Achievement Award winners are a professor of vertebrate zoology from Argentina and an ornithologist in Taiwan. And the fourth award winner is a Kenyan owl named Bundi.

Wolfgang Scherzinger, the author of Die Eulen Europas, one of the best books written on European owls, was named Champion of Owls. Scherzinger served as zoologist in Germany’s Bavarian Forest National Park for three dozen years, during which he completed field research in birds and animals and helped reintroduce two owl species into the wild.

Dr. Scherzinger will receive the award and deliver the keynote address at the festival’s awards banquet March 2.

Dr. Ana Trejo, professor of vertebrate zoology at the University of Comahue in Bariloche, Argentina, is one winner of a Special Achievement Award to be presented at the owl festival, March 1-3. She has researched the role that owls play in the control of hantavirus, a relatively new virus that can lead to death in humans. The virus is carried on rodent waste, and owls are significant predators of mice. Dr. Trejo also helped write a children’s TV nature program on owls.

The second winner of a Special Achievement Award also has a link to educational TV. Dr. Lucia Liu Severinghaus produced a film titled Du-Du Wu: The Story of the Lanyu Scops Owl, which was picked up by the National Geographic Channel and shown throughout Asia and Taiwan. Dr. Severinghaus was a research fellow at Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, studying owls from 1983 to 2010.

Bundi, a Verreaux’s eagle owl, is the winner of the Hall of Fame’s 2013 “Lady Gray’l Award,” given to an owl that has made the world a better place for owls. Bundi helped a central Kenyan ornithologist dispel local people’s distrust of owls, thought to bring disaster. Since Bundi has since been released back into the wild, his award will be collected by Francis Atanasio Kithure, the teacher with whom he lived while being rehabilitated. Kithure was warned not to take the bird into his home in early 2010, but Bundi soon became a local favorite because he was so friendly, and because none of the predicted bad luck actually occurred.

The Houston, Minn., owl festival – the only full-weekend, all-owl event in North America – celebrates the hatch day of Alice, a Great Horned Owl who works at the Houston Nature Center under the tutelage of Karla Bloem, center director and festival organizer. The festival includes such family-friendly activities as nest-box building, a photo contest, special photography sessions with owls, live-owl demonstrations, owl-themed shopping, face-painting and art projects for children. Some activities, such as photographic sessions with live owls, require advance registration.

The World Owl Hall of Fame is sponsored by the International Festival of Owls, the Global Owl Project, Bob Kierlin and Mary Burrichter, the James and Judy Sloan Foundation, and Tanja Sova.

More information is available at http://www.festivalofowls.com/halloffame.html.

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