These photos are unposted remnants from Owl Week. Now I’m not going to put the full weight of my academic reputation behind these photos/diagrams, but if they’re correct it’s really cool. This is a great grey owl (Strix nebulosa), with the fleshy parts shown in silhouette inside the feathers. It’s from the Wikipedia article on that species.
Having bathed cats in my life, and seen them turn into large rats when they’re wet, I don’t doubt this too much. I conclude that these birds are really parrots in owl suits.
UPDATE: Alert reader Hayden Googled “owl x-rays” and found this x-ray of a barn owl from the East Oregonian, which he’s linked to below. I thought it was good enough to put above the fold, for it proves that owls are indeed quite scrawny:
And here’s a barn owl all feathered and fluffy (photo by Nefarostock):