See the rules for Name That Bird here.
Author & Illustrator: Nina Laden
The original Peek-a Who? book is one of those books that makes me – as a writer – both delighted and angry because it’s so simple, perfect, and appealing to kids. Never in a million lives could I come up with something this amazing. Nina Laden is an American hero.
Plus, the book starts out strong with this grumpy lil’ owl:
What a darling grump! This compact owl is a ruddy brown color with yellow eyes and short horns. Our author-illustrator was born in NYC but lives in Washington State, so I’m going to consider and owls from the Northern part of the U.S.
Let’s start with the obvious choice: The Great-Horned owl.
Plumage and eye color is about right, but those those classic feathery tufts are too long to for our owl. And the GH is a big, long owl. Perhaps a smaller, stockier owl is a better choice. Someone like…the Eastern Screech Owl:
Screech owls come in red, grey, and brown morphs (brown pictured above – and yes they do look much more brown sometimes), have yellow eyes, and are stocky like our bird! One problem. Screech owls don’t say “whooooo”. They make a spooky whinny.
Saying “who” is sort of key for this owl. Peek-a Who being the title and all…
Maybe it’s time to move West? Consider the Short-Eared Owl:
Honestly when I read about this owl, I thought I’d found a winner. Brown? Check. Small horns? Check. Yellow eyes? Check! But…apparently it’s “ears” are sooooo little that they often disappear. Our owl definitely doesn’t have that problem. Plus, while the SE does hoot…sometimes…most of the time they say “rep! rep!”
So…what owl…is brownish and smallish and has yellow eyes and says “whoooo?”
An adolescent Great-Horned Owl! Look at those cute little feather tufts! And those angsty big yellow eyes! Sure, Great-Horned Owl chicks normally make a sound more like “eep!”, but clearly the bird in this book is a Great-Horned Owl teen on the cusp of adulthood, and that “who!” call may be one of her very first “who” calls ever! Peek-a-bird-finding-her-voice!
This is 100% backed by science. Ask any scientist. Go ahead. I’ll wait.