No, this is not a genuine photo of a blue owl in Madagascar
An image has been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter which claim it shows a blue owl in Madagascar. The claim is false; the image has been doctored from a photo of a brown Guatemalan pygmy owl.
The doctored image was published in this Facebook post on October 11, 2018, where it has been shared more than 1,300 times.
Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post:
The caption states: “The beautiful Owl of Madagascar”, followed by a heart emoji.
The claim is false; the image has been doctored from this photo of a brown Guatemalan pygmy owl published on May 17, 2017, by owl enthusiast website Owling.com.
The photo caption states: “Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, 5/2008. Knut took this nice photo of a Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl in the highlands of Guatemala.”
Below is a screenshot of the photo:
The doctored image is a mirrored version of the Owling.com photo.
It has subsequently been manipulated to include blue feathers, an orange beak and pink eyes.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (L) and the photo on Owling.com (R):
The Owling.com photo is credited to Knut Eisermann. His name can be seen alongside the Owling.com watermark in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo.
Below is a zoomed-in screenshot of the Owling.com watermark and the credit “2017 Knut Eisermann”:
Eisermann is included in this reference page published on Owling.com on May 17, 2017.
He is also listed as a bird-watching guide based in Guatemala on this website for Guatemala-based tour company Cayaya Birding.
Other photos of Guatemalan pygmy owls credited to Knut Eisermann were published here on December 14, 2011, by the Proeval Raxmu Bird Monitoring Program, a bird conservation website focussing on Guatemala and Middle America.