“An habitation of dragons, and a court for owls”*

by chuckofish

Yesterday morning at around 4:00 a.m. the OM and I were awakened by a heated argument outside our bedroom window. It was one of those what-the-heck moments when you have no idea what is happening.

Then we realized it was a pair of owls.

We hear owls all the time in the evening, but this was a first–being woken up by their racket. They seemed angry. They might have been Barred Owls and or maybe Great Horned Owls. Not sure.

Here is a video of some Barred Owls laughing it up.

Our pair definitely seemed to be arguing, but perhaps we misinterpreted their mood. They were loud anyway.

Here is a Great Horned Owl:

Anyway, this got me thinking about owls, so here are a few pictures of owl representations through the ages…

exeter cathedral

Exeter Cathedral

Kano Sansetsu (1589-1651)

Kano Sansetsu (1589-1651)

Gustave Dore

Gustave Dore

Portrait of James Boswell at Twenty-Five by George Willison

Portrait of James Boswell at Twenty-Five by George Willison

Albrecht Durer 1508

Albrecht Durer 1508

John James Audubon

John James Audubon

Ernest Shephard

Ernest Shepard

Athenian coin, 5th century BC

Athenian coin, 5th century BC

Temple University adopted the owl as its mascot in 1888, the first school in the nation to choose the bird. The nocturnal hunter symbolized Temple’s early mission: to be a night school for ambitious young people of limited means. In 1912 Rice University adopted the Owl as its mascot. Hilarity ensued.

Rice Owl mascot captured by Texas A&M students in 1917

Rice Owl mascot captured by Texas A&M students in 1917

One more fun fact: the Brandeis University mascot, Ollie the Owl, is named after Louis Brandeis’s colleague, Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Owls are great.  As carnivorous birds of prey they live mainly on a diet of insects and small rodents such as mice, rats and rabbits. They do an important job in the wild, i.e. keeping down the rodent population. Another cool thing about owls: They can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270 degrees.

In western culture the owl is generally associated with wisdom. This link originated in ancient Greece where Athena, the goddess of wisdom, had the owl as a symbol. In Rome the owl was considered a bird of ill-omen, however. Pliny the younger reports that owl’s eggs were commonly used as a hangover cure. 

So keep your eyes and ears open for owls in your yard. They are hard to see because it is usually dark when you hear them and they blend in very well with their habitat, but sometimes you can catch a glimpse.

Have a good weekend!

*Isaiah 34:13 (KJV)