One thing that isn’t so well-known about owls is that some of the smaller ones used to be kept in people’s kitchens to help catch any insects that might be causing problems. So owls are beautiful, intelligent and helpful creatures who make the night more magical with their breathtaking flights and eery calls under the moon. Long may those all-seeing owl eyes continue to peer mysteriously through the branches in the dark.
The ghostly flight of the barn owls
Barn owls are found all over the world – in fact they live on every continent on earth apart from Antarctica. Whether you live in Australia, Africa, Europe or the Americas, there’s a good chance that you’ve been surprised on a moonlit night by a barn owl suddenly swooping across in front of you. Did your heart beat a little faster, thinking it was a ghost?
Owls don’t just make the classic “To-whit, to-whoo!” noise of course. Depending on the type of owl, a whole range of screeches, shrieks, gurgles and chuckles is produced. Little owls have a mournful and quite pretty sound. Owls are most often heard at night, though they are sometimes awake during daytime too. Their association with the night adds to their mystery, and of course any sudden and unexpected scream they produce is even more terrifying in the dark.
Owls: Fluffy and feathery – but don’t be fooled
Owls do appear to be warm and cuddly, with their soft and beautifully decorative feathers, and their large, blinking eyes that stare hard at you and even give you a wink sometimes. Some of them, such as the European eagle owl, are very large, majestic birds and they are supreme hunters. Owls are associated with the goddess Athena and are held to be very wise birds indeed. We remember Athena in the names of some of the owls – the Latin name for the little owl, for example, is Athena noctua – the “noctua” part means owl, but it originates from the word for night. So we get the phrase “night owl” for people who like to stay up late, of course!
Making the night magical with owls
The next time you are in a museum that has items from ancient Egypt, see if you can spot one very special symbol amongst the curious little figures and items that make up Egyptian writing. These are known as hieroglyphs, and one of them is an image that you will almost certainly recognise. If you look closely, you might just see the familiar heart-shaped face and big dark eyes of the barn owl peeking back at you. This is the hieroglyphic symbol for the letter “m”.
Egyptian artists were very talented, and believed that their sacred writing had magical powers. Perhaps that’s why the barn owl looks so real that he could fly right out of the text and perch on your shoulder. Want more cool cute owl wallpaper?