Owls evoke extreme feelings. Either they send a creepy shudder through the spine or make people open their eyes wide in wonder. Among birds they enjoy an enviable status. Owls are perhaps the only birds that have captured the imagination of the humans throughout the centuries. Countless lore, myths and superstitions associated with owls, in various cultures, attest to this fact. Since, owls are rarely seen during the day, the most prevalent image of the owls is that which associate it with the dark. And indeed their haunting gaze and creepy hoot further cements this factor. Unfortunately, this also gave rise to indiscriminate killing to ward off the ‘evil eye’ and also its use in various rituals. Check out some interesting facts. myths & superstitions surrounding owls.
Facts, Myths And Superstitions On Owls
Interesting Owl Facts
- Except Antarctica, owls can be found throughout the world. They are found in a variety of habitats, from grasslands to deserts to snow covered landscape to dense forests.
- In owls, the females are generally larger than the males.
- There are over 150 species of owls in the world.
- Since, owls cannot move their eyes, so they have to move their entire head to look around. Owls can turn their head to 180 degrees. This is possible because owls have an extra vertebra in their spine.
- The color of the pupils of the eyes of the owls indicates the time they hunt. The owls having yellow eyes hunt during the day, those with dark eyes hunt during the day, and those with orange eyes hunt during the dawn and dusk.
- Owls do not have the sense of smell as well as the sense of taste.
- The ears of owls are not aligned evenly and so their sense of hearing is enhanced. They can even hear their prey moving beneath the snow and also hunt in complete darkness.
- Owls pair for life.
- The smallest owl is the Elf Owl which can grow up to 5 inches. The largest are the two Eagle Owls that can grow up to 29 inches with a wing span of 6 feet.
- A group of owl is known as a parliament, though most owls tend to be solitary.
Owl Myths And Superstitions
- The Greeks considered the owls as a symbol of good fortune. The owl is also associated with the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athene, and so owl also came to represent wisdom.
- However, the Romans consider the owls as evil. They believed that owls are the omens of disaster. The hoot of the owl is considered to be the call of death.
- Some American Indian tribes believed that the owls are the bearers of sickness and death, while some other tribes revered them as the souls of the dead and so consider the owls as protective spirits. It was also believed that the owls were the earthly incarnations of god.
- The Arabs consider the owls to be evil spirits that carry off children during the night.
- In India, the owl is revered as the ‘carrier’ of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and wisdom. It is also believed that the owls have magical properties which can ward off bad luck.
- The French held the owl in high esteem.
- In Russia, there is a belief that carrying owl claws just before a person dies will help their soul to climb up to heaven using the claws.
- The Polish believed that girls who died married turned to owls. They also believed that the only reason why owls do not come out during the day time is because they are so beautiful that other birds will attack them because of jealousy.