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Giant Owl or Photoshop?

Posted by: Nick Redfern on July 18th, 2012

You may have seen this photo doing the rounds on the Net and Facebook in the last few days.

Allegedly taken in Carrizo Springs, Texas, it has variously been described as a giant owl and the legendary “Lechuza” – a shape-shifting witch, no less.

I’m sure, like me, you have thoughts, ideas, theories and – of course – suspicions!! Maybe England’s Owlman took a wrong turn?

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.


17 Responses to “Giant Owl or Photoshop?”

  1. Peltboy25 responds:

    This is a good but obvious fake. If this bird were as large as it appears, the body would be far too heavy for two guys to hold up in the manner shown. I give it an A for effort, but this aint no hooter.

  2. peteyweestro responds:

    I remember back a few years ago being in Bovina Texas and the locals telling me they didn’t walk the railroad tracks at night because of the Lechuza, and they meant it. I never really believed it but thanks to an invention called the automobile i never had to test the theory

  3. Cass_of_MPLS responds:

    Oh so clearly a fake and we should be more active in censoring people who produce this stuff. Crytozoology is a legitimate field of study…not a joke.

    Honest researchers do not claim that the Loch Ness Monster exists or that Champ does or El Chupacabras, or even Bigfoot.

    We say people claim to have seen these things and have been claiming it since, like, forever. There is evidence enough to warrant serious scientific investigation.

    And that is all that we say…to say more would be to wander off into the lunatic fringes of the field. To say less would be intellectually dishonest.

  4. maslo63 responds:

    @ Peltboy, Birds don’t weigh much. Even California condors with their 9′ wingspan weigh only 25 lbs give or take. By comparison I used to have a cat that weighed 18 lbs. That said, I don’t believe this picture is real. It looks like a Photoshop and the owl in particular looks like a barn owl.

  5. AlyoshaK responds:

    Once again, as is almost always the case here, the comments baffle me. This is no more obviously fake than it is obviously genuine. It’s a poor quality photograph that has the feel of a smartphone. There seems to be some damage to the left wing. Would such a bird be possible? I believe so.

    Common…certainly not. If I had found or killed this bird, say with a vehicle I would document it in such a way that there would be no way to doubt that it was genuine. I would make a video against an easily calibrated background, with a clock on screen as I zoomed in to show anatomical details. But let’s say the person who found this bird has no interest in odd animals and is just documenting it to justify an expense report to have it taken away…why would you make a better photo? It would be a nuisance, not a fascinating discovery. I think those of you who always default to “obvious fake!” are showing the fact that you really are not thinking about what you are seeing and are simply trying to appear clever. You are failing in that quest. Assuming the taller man is about 6 feet tall, then the bird has a maximum wingspan of about 8 feet – anomalous and rare, but not unheard of. Once again, I can’t be sure what I am seeing here, but I do not believe it to be an obvious fake.

  6. sasquatch responds:

    Yeah I agree, there’s nothing that screams fake to me. Why would these guys wanna fake a big bird anyways? It’s about the largest owl Ive ever seen- but they do get big-I saw a great horned owl in Southern Colorado as a kid that was massive. so…I’d like to see more pics of this one as well…Like laid out with a measuring tape and clearer photos etc…

  7. aargeee responds:

    What is so obviously faked? I don’t see it cass of MPLS. And Peltboy25, the biggest owls in the world are only about 5 kg max. And have a wingspan of up to 2 metres (Earasian eagle owl and Blakiston’s fish owl). So even if this owl is larger, maybe 8ft. wingspan, it will probably not exceed 10 kg. I do agree it’s suspicious though.. If you shot such a animal would you just take a one little picture? Also i’m from Europe and if someone here would shoot an Eurasion eagle owl he/she will go to jail for sure.. I don’t know about the laws over there. But then again isn’t every picture which isn’t clear in which some mysterious beast suposedly is capture suspicious in one way or the other?

  8. PhotoExpert responds:

    I am in agreement with maslo63, AlyoshaK, sasquatch, and aargeee. I am in agreement with them, not on the basis of any photographic analysis I did, but rather their astute observations and logical thought processes.

    That is a rather large owl. As AlyoshaK pointed out, it looks like a typical cell phone photograph. With that being said, it would be a waste of my time to try and look for a cut paste or digital manipulation in analyzing the photograph. I did a cursory review of it for about a minute and it looks to be a genuine photograph with no glaring or obvious manipulation. It is what it appears to be.

    As maslo63 pointed out, birds to not way that much. So any person posting here that two men could not hold up such a bird is beyond me. I agree with maslo63, just because what he says makes perfect common sense.

    So sometimes, photographic analysis is not needed, just good common sense will do. Sasquatch posted that it is about the biggest owl he has ever seen. Ditto, I agree. It is not beyond the possibility of this owl occurring naturally in the wild. It’s similar to when I see a big fish picture. I say to myself, WOW, what a huge fish. I have never seen one that big. And common sense tells me that is not beyond of possibility that a fish of that species can grow that big. I just have not personally seen one. So this is no mystery to me. I don’t automatically scream “fake”. I just have not seen one that big but in my heart, I KNOW they exist.

    aargeee mirrors my sentiments above in his post. When we see a poor pixel count on a photo, it automatically becomes suspicious, one way or another. How true that is! Some will immediately call fake and some will immediately say it is real. This is when common sense should kick in for those of us who are deciding whether a photograph is authentic or not.

    For me, common sense tells me that the way this photo was taken, is that the photographer just happen to be there with and took a photo with the only camera he had on hand, his cell phone camera. Nothing out of the ordinary there. And it looks like the men in uniform were there for a reason, they probably received a call and were simply doing their jobs. The photo is not blatantly or poorly digitally manipulated at a cursory glance.

    So we have to ask ourselves the question, could an owl this big exist naturally in the wild? If it were a 20 foot owl, I would scream fake and begin to look for clues to back up that statement. But this owl is in the realm of a naturally occurring creature and could easily exist in the wild. There might even be a few owls that are larger. So I lean towards it being real. I evaluate the other points using common sense and come to the conclusion it is a real owl in this photo.

    With that being said, I would like to know more about it and the circumstances surrounding this find.

  9. PhotoExpert responds:

    One more thing: If one is going to hoax a photograph, this would be a perfect example of how to do it. If you have a known creature such as a cat or a dog, you put parameters on how big to enlarge the creature in a photograph or how small you wish it to be. If it is too large or too small, it will come off as an obvious hoax. So you make it look almost natural but within the realm of it occurring naturally. But 9 times out of 10, the hoaxer will get the photo proportions correct but the rest of the story does not fit when common sense is applied to the scenario. Common sense goes a long way, sometimes more than simple photographic analysis.

    Excuse my typos in the above post. I just got up from a nap. way=weigh. And there are a couple of missing words in a few sentences. Not my normal posting style. Off to get a cup of coffee.

  10. Cass_of_MPLS responds:

    Look, all you have to do is blow the picture up to see it is photoshopped. The head doesn’t even fit in the body.

    The body is that of the Snowy Owl while the head appears to be that of the Burrowing owl..although it is a little to pixilated to be certain.

  11. Fhqwhgads responds:

    The pattern in the ground texture looks to me like it has been altered.

  12. keeganjohn responds:

    if you zoom in on the hand of the guy to the left, it looks to me like his hand is infront of the owl.

  13. dylan responds:

    Though Texas would be south of its usual range across the Northern Hemisphere, it might be a “Great Gray Owl“, believed to be the world’s largest owl.

    Great Grays have frequently showed up outside their usual range when feeding competition pressures and other factors make them roam. And they often end up like this poor bugger, shot for a trophy.

    At their largest they weigh just a bit over four pounds.

  14. Cryptoraptor responds:

    Clearly this is not a story that the Carrizo Springs, Texas media cares a whole lot about.

    How difficult would it to be for locals to determine if the officers in the photo are really from Carrizo Springs, track them down, and ask them if the owl was really that big?

  15. aargeee responds:

    What would a bird expert say?

    Photoexpert i like youre comments. It ís in the realm of possibility!

  16. Cass_of_MPLS responds:

    No doubt a “bird expert” (ornithologist) might very well say that the “giant owl” is within the realm of “possibility” because, strictly speaking, EVERYTHING is. But in the realm of probability it is far more likely to be a hoax. Carrizo Springs (which is in Southwestern Texas) has only one newspaper (The Javelin) and they charge for the “E” edition $5.00 for a one week trial Just click if you think it’s worth it. I don’t, frankly, but it does suggest who MIGHT be behind the photo since unlike most newspapers they won’t even allow you a limited search of their online edition without getting some cash from you.

    NONE of the major news media in the area has mentioned this story even as a “silly supplement”.

    Which is another indication that it’s just another fake.

    As for law enforcement it is the Dimmit County Sherriff’s Department that covers Carrizo Springs and you can contact THEM via
    Phone: (830) 876-9263
    or
    Fax: (830) 876-9263

    or you snail-mail them at

    103 N 5TH ST
    Carrizo Springs, TX
    78834

    If you would like to ask them about their giant owl.

  17. aargeee responds:

    Cass_of_MPLS thank you for your information. I think you researched this quite thoroughly! I like you checked all media and even gave the local law enforcement info. Due to your arguments I now lean heavily towards the idea that it is indeed fake.

    But like Photoexpert, in my heart I know there are still spectacular discoveries to be made in the animal kingdom. :)



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