© Sue Fletcher
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 with Karla Bloem at the Houston Nature Center through a string of serendipitous events.
Alice the Great Horned Owl is 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 Karla's rural home and commutes to work each day.
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 kid's activities, the International Festival of Owls had its humble beginnings.
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 testified before the Minnesota House and Senate Environment Committees to have Great Horned Owls removed from Minnesota's "unprotected birds" list. In recognition for her efforts Alice now holds Special Permit #1. She also prompted Karla to begin a vocal study on Great Horned Owls, which had never been done before.
Alice is no stranger to the media. She has talked into the microphone on various radio stations (including Minnesota Public Radio and BBC Radio in England). She has appeared in newspaper articles around the Midwest. Her hoots appear on NatGeo TV's Xbox Kinect game. No less than four photos of her appear in Intriguing Owls by Stan Tekiela. Besides local television appearances, she was also featured on an episode of Pets 101 on Animal Planet.
For her efforts, Alice received the World Owl Hall of Fame's Lady Gray'l Award in 2010.
Yes, Alice has a big head (all owls have big heads), but she's still available for educational programs other than her maternity leave to incubate eggs in January and February.
The International Owl Center advances the survival of wild owl populations through education and research. We plan to accomplish our mission through biological and cultural programs and displays, green building design, citizen-science and other research, international exchange of information, the World Owl Hall of Fame, the International Festival of Owls, and other means.