Photo: Why does this long-eared owl look so surprised?

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There are a lot of expressive owls on this planet, but long-eared owls may take the prize. Just look at that face! But why such a surprised expression?

Long-eared owls have two things leading to their classic look of astonishment. First, those namesake ears; an animal's pert ears tend to reflect a state of awareness, curiosity, and alertness. Or, surprise! Next, those big round pupils set in those big round eyes. The first lesson in drawing human eyes is not to make the irises round lest the subject look astounded; since the eyelids cover the top and sometimes bottoms of the iris, the only time they are full circles is when the eyes are wide open, as in a look of surprise. It's challenging not to read the eyes of the long-eared eye in the same way.

Regardless, this is one utterly cute and beautiful bird.

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