Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Blood-Curdling Call of the Barn Owl

Taken from: British Birds, W. H. Hudson, 1902:

The following account by W.H. Hudson in 1902 describes our strange relationship to the beautiful barn owl, a mingling of fear, respect and awe.

The Barn Owl

"Another general remark about this most strange and fascinating fowl may be made in this place. The barn-owl, being so widely distributed, and in many countries the most common species, and being furthermore, the only member of its order that attaches itself by preference to human habitations, and is a dweller in towns as well as in rural districts, is probably the chief inspirer and object of innumerable ancient owl superstitions which still flourish in all countries among the ignorant. His blood-curdling voice, his whiteness, and extraordinary figure, and, when viewed by day on his perch in some dim interior, his luminous eyes and great round face, and wonderful intimidating gestures and motions, must powerfully affect the primitive mind, for in that low intellectual state whatever is strange is regarded as supernatural.
Before sitting down to write this little history I went out into the woods, and was so fortunate as to hear three owls calling with unearthly shrieks to one another from some large fir-trees under which I was standing, and listening to them, it struck me as only natural that in some many regions of the earth this bird should have been, and should be still regarded as an evil being, a prophet of disaster and death."

Read this alongside the Tragic Tale of the Schuhu by Grimm (See below). 

Or more about owl mythology:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well I guess I'm a "primitive mind" because I love the "owl's luminous eyes, great round face and especially the intimidating gestures and motions".