A large statue of an owl was recovered from the St. Johns River near DeLand, Florida in 1955. An artifact of the Timucua Native American tribes that historically lived in the area, the original pine wood statue dates from 1400-1500 A.D. The original piece is on display at the Florida State Museum in Gainesville. A replica of the statue stands on Hontoon Island, a state park cut out of the St. Johns River near DeLand.
The owl totem identified the local “clan” of Timucua; similar statues representing a pelican and an otter were found elsewhere along the St. Johns in 1978. These three totems are the only such Native American statues found in North America outside of the Pacific Northwest. The owl totem is remarkable for its large size.
The stylized totem statue probably represents a Great Horned Owl and stands over six feet tall from horns to talons. Interestingly, the totem owl has five talons, instead of the four naturally found on Great Horned Owls. Was there perhaps a bit of anthropomorphizing among the Owl Clan? I’m not judging. In fact, as a lover of owls, I say — sign me up for the modern version of the Owl Clan.
Sources: The Florida anthropologist via the University of Florida and replica signage