Based on response I get to this podcast and to my bird photography, it’s safe to say that people love raptors and particularly owls. (One exception is on the African Continent where most people think they are evil – but that’s another podcast.)
For all of man’s time on this earth, owls have been used as symbols of knowledge, wisdom, power and even as idols in some religions. Whether it’s ancient or modern culture, owls seem to capture our hearts and our minds.
Owls are referenced in many spiritual texts, including the Bible.
I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. Job 30:29
Many North American Indian tribes thought owls were sacred. Yakima Indians used them on totems.
Owls have always been part of the root metaphors of how humans relate to the land. One of the earliest human drawings dating back to the early Paleolithic period was of a family of Snowy Owls (Nyctea scandiaca) painted on a cave wall in France.
Owls pop up in petroglyphs, paintings and now in books and movies.
U.S. Geological Survey databases reveal 576 places in the United States that in some way are named “owl,” such as Owlshead Canyon, Owl Mine, Owl Creek, and Owl Hollow.
Owls play a big part in our popular culture.
Whether it’s Wini the Pooh or The Owl And The Pussycat, owls have been featured in nursery rhymes. In movies, owls were prominent figures in Twin Peaks and of course Harry Potter, where Hedwig serves as an important symbol of Harry’s childhood and owls are used to deliver the mail. Woodsy Owl, the U.S. Forest Service mascot, has encouraged children to protect the environment for almost four decades. His motto was “Give a hoot, don’t pollute!” Then there is Hooters the restaurant chain and I think I’ll stop there.
Owls are a big part of our lives and are possibly the avian world’s best known ambassadors.
Next week, I’ll talk more about raptors – this time bald eagles, and how they fit into our popular culture.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Avian Beauty. Thanks for listening.
Be sure to visit avianbeauty.com for more bird inspiration and information and please consider subscribing (for free) to our blog and podcast. I’m Scott Bourne. Happy birding.
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Scott Bourne is an Olympus Visionary, a professional bird/wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He is a pioneer in digital photography and was named one of the “30 most influential photographers on the Web” by Huffington Post. His photographic experience spans four decades and his bird/wildlife images have been published in more than 200 magazines and periodicals. He is also a Signed Master at Studio of Masters in China.
Scott has been a founder, co-founder, advisor or early stage investor in several technology companies such as NetRadio, Photofocus, and ViewBug.