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3-5 March 2017 Houston, Minnesota USA


Why an owl festival, and why Houston, Minnesota?



A three-week old owlet fell out of her rickety nest high in a mature pine tree in the city of Antigo, Wisconsin one fine spring day in 1997, forever changing the way the world looks at owls. She was cared for at the Raptor Education Group, Inc. in Antigo, but the injury to her left elbow was too severe for her to ever fly and live in the wild. So she got a job as an education bird working at the Houston Nature Center through a string of serendipitous events.


As Alice's popularity grew, Karla thought it might be fun to throw a "hatch-day" party to celebrate the day she hatched in early March. With live owl programs given by Marge Gibson of the Raptor Education Group and a few kids activities, the International Festival of Owls had its humble beginnings.

Alice the Great Horned Owl was the only live animal at the small city-run Houston Nature Center in Houston, Minnesota (population 979). As the only live animal at a facility with a staff of one person, Alice lives at the rural home of her handler, Karla Bloem (then Nature Center Director/Naturalist) and commuted to work each day. Alice now works with Karla at the International Owl Center.

Alice has made her mark on the world in numerous ways. Besides touching the lives of tens of thousands of people in educational programs, Alice also provided the impetus for removing Great Horned Owls from Minnesota's "unprotected birds" list (Alice received Special Permit #1 to recognize her work on this issue). She also prompted Karla to begin a vocal study on Great Horned Owls, which had never been done before. And of course without Alice, there would be no International Festival of Owls, no World Owl Hall of Fame, and no International Owl Center. 

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