Whenever you've gone by Resident Services in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you've probably noticed a white owl or yellow bird perched atop your bulletin board. In a game full of anthropomorphic animals, their inclusion is a mystery. Can you catch them with a net like you can a bug or tarantula? Can you shoot them with your slingshot like you can a balloon? Is the white owl related to Blathers?
Here's why these animals show up in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and what they mean for your island.
When do the white owl and yellow bird appear? — The white owl and yellow bird are mostly superfluous additions to the game, but they appear whenever there's an unread notice on your bulletin board. As soon as you get beyond the intro sequence of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can walk over to the bulletin board near Toom Nook's Resident Services tent or building to see them for the first time.
Their connection to new bulletin board posts carries over from Animal Crossing: New Leaf. They are also a kind of window dressing to confirm the time of day. The yellow bird will be perched on the bulletin board during the day, while the white owl will be there them from 5 p.m. onwards. Some players have even spotted a baby owl that joins its parent after you've played the game for long enough, so the developers have put a clear effort into modifying them over time.
Can you catch the white owl and yellow bird? — One of the core gameplay loops in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is catching bugs and fish in order to donate them to the museum or sell them. Your player is human, but all of the other characters in the game are anthropomorphized animals. These more traditional animals are somewhere in between, so your first inclination may be to try and catch them. Unfortunately, you cannot catch the white owl or yellow bird in Animal Crossing: New Horizons ... as of April 2020.
As we've mentioned, they are aesthetic additions to indicate the time of day, and they will fly away if you get to close to them. There's no need to hit them with your net or try shooting at them with your slingshot. Blathers probably wouldn't be too happy if you showed up at the museum with his wounded cousin.
You should stick to documenting bugs and fish or wooing bird-themed villagers to come to your island.
The Inverse Analysis — As someone who has just started their Animal Crossing: New Horizons journey, the inclusion of these birds does seem quite odd. If like me, you thought there was more to them, we're sorry to disappoint. Still, the addition of that baby owl shows that these birds have the potential to change, both aesthetically and in usage, over time.
Nintendo has revealed plans for Animal Crossing: New Horizons events through the end of June 2020, and they are all centered around new themes. If the developers did want to increase the importance of these birds, one of these events would give them a great opportunity to do so.