VALLEY PARK, MO (KTVI) - You're looking at a brood of barred owls. Chances are you've seen baby birds of prey like these popping up in backyards and balconies around the region.
'This time of year the baby owls are coming out of the nest,' says Walter Crawford, World Bird Sanctuary Founder. 'The first ones we got are the Great Horned Owls and then we got the barred owls and then we got the screech owls.'
It's here where they give a hoot at the world bird sanctuary in Valley Park. The nature center has been taking phone calls about more and more of the mini owls in residential areas and some people are trying to keep them as pets.
'I said you can't do that,' says Crawford. 'First of all they're federally protected, not state but federally and the fines are pretty heavy.'
World Bird Sanctuary founder Walter Crawford calls it the harry potter syndrome, after the movie and book made owls famous for being magical sidekicks.
But Crawford doesn't recommend taking a page from J.K.Rolling's books and instead leave them be if you see one where you live.
'They're great,' says Crawford. 'They kill the mice the rats, the snakes. They're the only thing we know of that eats skunks. They have no sense of smell, zero.'
While they can turn their heads some 270 degrees, an owl is not a pet like the wizard world of Harry Potter and can't help you with your homework, unless of course, it's owl-gebra.