Uhu, newcomer to the International Owl Center in Houston, Minn., brings an air of worldliness to the place. That's because she is a Eurasian eagle-owl, a species that in the wild roams Europe and Asia. Other owl ambassadors are natives of the Americas: great horned owls named Alice, Rupert and Ruby.
The center had been on the lookout for just such an owl, "so we could speak about species elsewhere in the world and challenges they face," said Karla Bloem, the center's executive director.
Uhu came via the U.S. Postal Service from a now-shuttered center on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., in a box designed for just such a job. "Express mail," said Bloem, who nonetheless felt nervous until she received a 1 a.m. phone from the Rochester post office asking her to please pick up her bird.
Alice, the regal matriarch, is adjusting to the larger newcomer. The size of Eurasian eagle-owls can rival that of eagles; Uhu's wingspan approaches 6 feet.
"Uhu steals the show. She is like a sweet, innocent kid who doesn't know she's stealing the show. Alice just looks at her, like, 'Why are you getting all the attention?' "
Go see for yourself. Just be sure to admire Alice, too. The center is open Fridays through Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with programs at 11 and 2, and owl enrichment activities (think Beanie Babies tossed in the air) at 3:30. For details, go to internationalowlcenter.org.