Owl Symbolism & Meaning-The Ultimate Guide

What Does an Owl Symbolize?-An Overview

Owl as a bird belongs to the Strigiformes. They are birds of prey that possess binocular vision and long sharp talons.

This bird has feathers that are silent and can dive fast and deep. Owls are, by nature, solitary birds who love to live and hunt alone. They are nocturnal animals which means they are more active at night or in dark places.

Special Attributes of Owl.

One special thing about owls is that they don’t have eyeballs. They have a sharp focus which helps them in perceiving far-off objects accurately, which enhances their hunting level.

Another special thing about the Owl is that, unlike other night animals, the Owl can see during the day also. Owls also possess amazing hearing power.

They can give an accurate measurement of the distance and location just by listening to the sound.

Different Types of Owl

There are more than 200 different species of Owl in the world. Notable ones are the long-eared owl, barn owl, snowy owl, tawny owl, Eurasian eagle-owl, pygmy owl, boreal Owl, etc.

All Owl belongs to the Strigiformes order. This order is classified into two families, the Barn owls, and the true owls. The differentiation between these two families is that the Barn owl has a heart shape head, whereas the true Owl has a round face.

Some Facts About Owl.

  • Among all the birds and animals, the Owl is one of the most interesting creatures of the night.
  • Different owl species number around 250, most of which are in Asia. Around 19 of them are in the USA and Canada.
  • Most Owl has uneven ears, which according to a scientist, helps them in determining the location of different sounds.
  • Owl doesn’t possess any eyeballs, and they can not see nearby objects very clearly.
  • It seems weird, but the Owl has three eyelids!
  • Owls are not exclusively nocturnal; sometimes, they even hunt during the day.
  • Owl wings are wide, and their bodies are light. This feature helps make the Owl a silent flier.

Is Owl an Evil Bird?

Many cultures consider the Owl as an embodiment of an evil spirit. They are not ascribed to be death itself, but they are believed to be unclean and undesirable.

Owl hunts in the dark, their screech is fearsome, and their looks are quite ferocious. Maybe these attributes give them an evil reputation. Some cultures even consider the Owl a bad omen.

Owls are also regarded as the souls of the death and the messenger of witches or sorcerers. If an owl starts hooting nearby, it is known to signify misfortune like death or bad weather for the community.

Owls as Power Animals.

Legend has it that humans have animal spirits.

But what would it mean if you had an owl as your spirit animal?

Well, people could call you a psychic because of your incredible insight. Your ability to see and feel what others can not makes you stand out as a person with the psychic power of prophecy.

Owls, for their power of keen observation and powerful memory, are often referred to as the most intelligent and mysterious animals.

This is one reason why Owl, as a spirit animal, is regarded in high esteem. The owl spirit animal signifies the independent, illustrative, eccentric personality that can cause others to get jealous. But the straightforward news attitude of the Owl will take them high.

Owl Totem Animal

The owl totem animal is emblematic of wisdom and intuition, as are the characteristics of the owl bird. Possessing an owl as a self totem or animal spirit makes you the envy of the crowd because of your quick wit and intuitiveness.

When the owl totem guides you, no deceit or disillusionment can hamper your walk. Also, those who possess the Owl as a personal totem get the knowledge and guidance on the adventure and the magic of life.

So how do we harness the powerful totem or spirit animal? All it takes is for you to stop and listen; look out for any subtle signs.

In many traditions, the owl totem means death, but it should be taken symbolically. It only means the death of the old and the rebirth of the new you.

Meaning of Owl Tattoo.

Owls are said to be wise and intelligent, so an owl tattoo can mean a love for learning. Artistically speaking, owl tattoos help an artist to shine as they make a striking image. Owl as a tattoo is also convenient as it can be made big or small according to the needs.

If tattoos are made symbolically, an owl tattoo can mean the rejuvenation of a worthy life. It can also mean hope, as the Owl is one animal that can find its way in the dark. The owl is a mysterious bird, so it can symbolize the mystery of life, etc.

Owl Interpretation in Different Country

The bird Owl Symbolism is interpreted differently by different cultures according to their symbolism and mythology. For the western world, it represents wisdom and understanding, whereas, for most Asian cultures, the bird owl is a protector.

In the middle east, it is associated with death and destruction, and the European and American believe that the Owl represents intelligence. Maybe this is why many people put tattoos of owls on their bodies.

Owl is a bird of the night. There are so many contradictions in its behavior. It lives while the world sleeps and sleeps when the world is awake.

This creature of the dark has always mesmerized the human race, and this very character of the Owl gives it a foreboding mystery. This may be the reason why there are so many superstitions and symbolic interpretations of owls.

What does Owl mean to An Indian?

For Indians, an owl represents foolishness. When the goddess Lakshmi is seen riding on an owl, it represents a symbol of the corruption of wealth. This is why unlike in other countries where the Owl is regarded as intelligent and courageous, here in India owl symbolizes foolishness, ugliness, and bad luck.

India is a big country with diverse cultures and religions. As such, there are mixed interpretations of Owls Symbolism.

Many Indian still believe that seeing or hearing an owl means good luck. The majority of people think that a white owl means good luck, whereas any other colored Owl means bad luck.

Owls have connotations of darkness, loneliness, and spookiness. This is why owls are often linked with the messengers of death or misfortune and natural calamity. Very often, the sight of an owl sends shivers down the spine. They always evoke extreme emotions in people, be it dark and foreboding or beautiful and spirited.

In India, the Owl has a different meaning. It symbolizes foolishness and corruption as well as wisdom and wealth.

Owl Symbolism should always be taken subjectively. Why do Indians consider the Owl to symbolize wealth and wisdom? The answer is very simple.

  • To be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous, it is important to work with zeal and intelligence. It is often said that to be successful, one must learn to act like an owl. Here Owls Symbolism is very admirable as it is regarded as life itself.


  • Sometimes it is important to take a risk and come off from the crowd and strive alone for success. Being one of the crowd is not always beneficial. Sometimes one needs to go solo as an owl.


  • The basic skills for a successful life are to possess traits that other people lack, like listening skills, binocular vision, the ability to work in the dark, and flexibility, just like an owl. These are some of the qualities which can propel one to success by defeating opponents.


  • Prosperity comes when life is successful. To be successful in life, one needs to know when to work and when to rest. It is most profitable to work where there is very little competition and much scope for exploration. Just like the Owl, work must be done as silently as possible and with focus.


  • Life is not only about wealth. Without wisdom, everything else is lost. Owl Symbolism as wisdom comes from its characteristics eyesight. The Owl is regarded as the most intelligent bird because of its efficient, target-oriented, purposeful nature.


  • Another attribute of the Owl that makes them regarded as the most intelligent bird is that they do not seek crowd. Owls are, by nature, solitary creatures. They don’t follow anyone and don’t go for the common zone.

These are some of the reasons why Indians regarded the Owl as a symbol of wisdom, prosperity, and fortune. It is in the character of the bird.

What does The Egyptian Think of The Owl?

Different culture has different kinds of Owl Symbolism. According to the Egyptians, the Owl represents psychic ability and intuition. Owls are nocturnal hunters.

They have the unique ability to hear the slightest sound and see even very far-off objects. Owls also have the capability of silent flying. All these characteristics of the Owl made the Egyptians believe that owls were the keepers of the netherworld.

Greece Takes on Owl.

According to the ancient Greeks, the Owl Symbolism is one of their goddesses. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, courage, and righteousness, is represented by the Owl.

The attribute of the Owl is just the same as the Greek belief their goddess Athena possessed. Even today, the Euro coin depicts an owl with an olive branch which shows the statue of the Owl in their culture.

Owl in European Mythology

Europe takes the Owl Symbolism to another level by attributing it to knowledge and learning. Many European universities or learning institutes have owl motifs in their structures and building.

The ancient Roman believed that a feather of the Owl could help unravel the secrets of a sleeping person. It symbolized fertility to the Welsh. The hoot of an owl spells smooth childbirth. But certain European cultures believe that the Owl was the messenger of death.

Owls in Japanese Culture.

The Japanese word for Owl is Future. The extent to which the Japanese honor the Owl can be easily observed from the way the Owl Symbolism is used by them. The Owl is depicted in almost everything. It somehow gives the impression that Japanese life revolves only around the Owl. They symbolize the Owl with luck. They believe that an owl charm can give an immense fortune to the people.

The Symbolic Connotation Of Owl.

Owl has the most number of legends and beliefs than any other animal. This may be partly due to its all-pervasiveness and partly due to its mysterious characters.

Some of the most common Owl Symbolism is death, shapeshifting, destruction, wisdom, and courage. To further understand this, let us discuss it one by one as follows.

Owl Symbolism of Death

In many cultures all over the world, the Owl is used as a sign of death and destruction.

In many cultures, the Owl is regarded as the messenger of death. This may be because of its nocturnal characters, which symbolize a cool dark place or the netherworld.

Some people even believe that the Owl has the power to send people to the afterworld. Even today, many people regard the Owl with unease and foreboding, and the sight of an owl makes them change their plans.

The Shapeshifting Power of the Owl

Many animals have the attributes of changing their shape according to their situations. There are some unique shapeshifting stories of owls.

The legends of La Lechuza, a Mexican shape-shifting witch who was executed by her people, came back to life with the power of transformation.

Another story tells of a tragic Welsh woman who was turned into an owl despised by the other birds. There are still many moral stories based on the Owl Symbolism told as an example for both parents and children.

Wisdom as a Symbolism of Owl

Different culture represents an owl differently depending on their culture and beliefs. Most numbers are of times. The Owl is connected with intelligence and wisdom.

Owl Symbolism is diverse. It can mean opposite things to people living in the same region. Most cultures take the Owl to be one of the most intelligent birds in the world.

Their sharp straight features, their heightened sense of hearing, their extraordinary vision, their ability to fly and dive silently, and their ability to thrive in any habitat are some of the reasons why owls are believed to be intelligent.

Owls in The Spiritual Realm.

Of all the animals, the Owl is one of the most mysterious and unfathomable. They are the legend maker. They struck wonder and fear in the hearts of the people.

Owls Symbolism greatly differs from culture to culture and from race to race. In the spiritual realm, the Owl signifies death. They are associated with destruction and calamity.

The sight of an owl or a hoot of an owl can have a life-changing impact on people.

In all the world, people have regarded the Owl as having a connection with the spirit world.

They were supposed to have magical powers to affect life and the environment. People were scared of the owls as they believed them to be able to create havoc in their life.

The different representations of the Owl by different cultures all lead to the belief that this elusive nocturnal creature has an affinity indeed with the afterlife, the spirit world, or as it is usually called the underworld.

The Owls Symbolism and the spiritual connotation of the Owl are so strong that it was often used as a teaching medium to educate children and adults alike on the importance of discipline.

The stories of Owl hunting for children and souls at night were a good way of discouraging children from roaming in the night or overstaying.

Is The Owl a Lucky Charm?

It is not easy to see an owl as they are night creatures. It can easily be regarded as a lucky day if an owl is sighted. Owls are predators. They hunt for their food in the dark.

Their eyesight is excellent, and their hearing ability is beyond this world. They possess a gallant look with their straight back and big head.

They got the complete baggage, so meeting or seeing something so perfectly made in itself is a lucky thing. People used to keep a leg or feather of the Owl as a lucky charm for good fortune.

Seeing an owl can also help one to retrospect and try to find answers to the hidden mystery of life.

It is not the Owl but the legends behind the Owl that make people do and accomplish many things in life which seemed impossible.

What Happens When Owl Hoots.

Is it a bad thing to hear an owl hoot, or is it a good thing? Different culture tells different tales about the Owl. As mentioned above, Owls’s Symbolism is kind of weird. There are many contradictory sayings about the Owl.

In reality, an owl hoots when it has a mind to hoot. It means nothing else. But since the human concept is deeply rooted in mythology and tradition, it is impossible to ignore the teachings and beliefs associated with the hoot of an owl.

An owl hoots when it wants to assert its authority over others.

Spiritually, the hoot of an owl would mean that it is time to set some private boundaries and channel positive energy toward the individual inner self.


Owls are night creatures. They hunt their prey in the deep of the night when they are fast asleep. Owls do at night what the eagle does during the daytime.

Owls are great hunters. They are silent and fierce, fast and unrelenting. Their attack is fatal, and their kill rate is high. This is why they make a good killing machine, and they are very often regarded as the messenger of death.

As discussed above, Owl’s Symbolism differs greatly between cultures. To some, it is one of wisdom, intelligence, and wealth.

To some others, it is an omen of bad luck, destruction, calamity, and death.

The interpretation is different according to people’s beliefs and practices. Nevertheless, an owl is no ordinary bird. There is something about it that brings out awe in people’s minds.

The mythology and folklore are our main sources of understanding the Owl’s Symbolism.

They do give us contradictory interpretations of the bird, but all of them agree that the Owl possesses some unique attributes that set it apart from all the other birds.

More Read: Hummingbird Symbolism & Meaning

Many folklore and superstitions tell about the uniqueness and stature of the Owl. Even today, there are instances when we find ourselves rethinking our past life and action when we encounter an owl. 


"Smith is an outdoor enthusiast and Just loves everything about binoculars. Since his childhood he has been a fan of optical gadgets & going into the Jungle with his uncle was his favorite pastime. Besides, He loves watching & studying birds & animals. He is a mechanical engineering graduate and New Jersey Resident. He loves to review binoculars and related optical Instruments and loves testing each one of them." When he is not fiddling with one of his binoculars, you can find him playing his favorite sport Pickleball."

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