Animal Magic





Folklore and Magic

In the ancient world, the owl was associated with wisdom, but it was also associated with bad omen!. Its hooting was said to be a bringer of misfortune or death. The owl is an extremely ancient being which has seen many ages pass.  

               Birds of omen dark & foul,

                     night-crow, raven, bat and owl,

                             leave the sick man to his dream-

                                    all night long he heard you scream.

                                                  Sir Walter Scott.


According to old Scottish mountain legends, an owl hooting at midnight signifies death is coming, and an owl seen in the daylight hours is a bringer of bad news.


In Ancient Greece the owl was sacred to the Greek Goddess Athena. Athena was so agitated by the cawing of her meddling crow, that she got rid of it and replaced it with an owl. Apparently the owl that Athena was connected to was the `little owl´ (Athene noctua).  Many coins have been found dating from ancient Greece with one side Athena´s head and the reverse side an owl.

In english folklore, the barn owl seems to be the all out favourite (top picture). It was and still is used to predict the weather.. A screeching owl means cold weather or a storm is coming, and an owl heard during a bad weather means a change is near.


The Magic Owl

Eyesight, owls eyes are fixed, they cannot move side to side like ours! theres  a good reason for this... their eyes are tubular basically giving the owl telescopic vision.


The owls movement of its head (270degrees left and right, very fast) easily makes up for the fixed position.  Owls eyes are also adapted for night vision, and to put it in a nutshell.. on a dark moonless night, an owl can see better than a human can in bright sunlight. 


Theres more... an owl has three eyelids, normal upper and lower like humans (the lower lid closing upwards when they sleep), and also a nictitating membrane which closes diagonally

across the eye, this membrane actually cleans the surface of the eye, when the eyelid opens and closes.


The owls range in audible sounds is similar to us humans, but its also much more acute at certain frequencies, pinpointing the exact movement of their prey in the undergrowth or even under snow.


Some species of owls have faces in the shape of a radar dish, actually guiding sounds into the ear openings.  The shape of this radar face can also be altered at will using facial muscles.  


The beak/bill of these birds is also pointed downwards,  thus creating a bigger surface area for sound waves to travel over.


Once the owl has determined the direction of its prey, It takes to flight, keeping its head in the direction of the sound thus being able to alter its flight path if needed.


The thirteen types of European Owl

  • Barn Owl  - Tyto alba
  • Eagle Owl - Bubo bubo
  • Great Grey Owl - Strix nebulosa
  • Hawk Owl - Surnia ulula
  • Little Owl - Athene noctua
  • Long-eared owl  -  Asio otus
  • Pygmy Owl - Glaucidium passerinum
  • Scops Owl - Otus scops
  • Short-eared owl - Asio flammeus
  • Snowy Owl - Bubo scandiaca
  • Tawny Owl - Strix aluco
  • Tengmalm´s Owl - Aegolius funereus
  • Ural Owl  -  Strix uralensis