FACT CHECK:  Does a photograph depict a teal-colored species of owl?

Claim:   A photograph depicts a teal-colored species of owl.

  FALSE

Example:   [Collected via Facebook, September 2015]

A TEAL owl? Who knew? Not me. But it’s beautiful.

Origins:   On 21 August 2015, a Facebook user published the photograph of a putative teal-colored species of owl shown above along with the excerpted status update. The image was shared tens of thousands of times, with many subsequent commenters remarking that they’d never seen a teal owl before.

The teal owl seemingly appeared out of the ether on social media sites in August 2015: a version was published to the site ImgFave, while another circulated on Pinterest. The photograph appears to depict a pygmy owl, an avian creature that is generally brown with yellow eyes and not teal with magenta eyes:

In a search for other pictures of the elusive teal owl, we came across a photograph that was identical to the circulating image save for being rendered in colors that are actually known to appear in nature:

The original photograph (published to the web site Owl Pages) was a clear match for the manipulated “teal owl” picture, but whoever enhanced the colors also flipped the image horizontally, thereby making the source photograph difficult to locate using reverse searches. Nevertheless, the teal owl photo is obviously nothing more than a creative riff on the extant (and naturally colored) species of pygmy owl seen above.

Last updated:  1 September 2015

Originally published:  1 September 2015