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Natural Environment How Human History has been impacted by the environment, science, nature, geography, weather, and natural phenomena


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Old September 9th, 2015, 08:56 AM   #1

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The Owl


I was watching some owls the other day in Waco, and the only thing that popped into my mind was "perfection." I love animals, and the natural world, but I have just been fascinated by owls for a very long time. I have read a bit on them, and seen some of the nature documentaries that featured or were solely about owls, and I even had the opportunity to feed some injured and recuperating owls at a raptor refuge up north years ago. They are simply amazing creatures.

There are something like 155 different kinds of owls, big and small, in many different climate zones around the world.

The feathers are silent when they fly, and they only have feathers on their bodies -- even their legs. The eyesight and hearing is outstanding, and there is something about those with the "radar dish" shaped faces that funnels sound or vibrations to help locate prey. I cannot remember exactly what that is, and am hoping to find more here about owls. The ability to turn their heads almost completely upside-down, and all the way behind them is also unique it seems. They capture the imagination, and have been important to human cultures around the world.

I looked, and did not see a thread in this section on owls specifically or with their interaction with humans across history. I have heard some stories about owls depicted in different cultures, and would love to see what anyone here has to say about owls. It can be something scientific, or real world involving owls, their habitats, diet, hunting skills, or it can be in relation to their interaction with humans and human culture.

What stories are there about owls from around the world? What do they represent to different cultures or religions? Anything about the owl is welcome here.

Snowy Owl preparing for the kill:
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Old September 9th, 2015, 09:14 AM   #2
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We have a family of Barn owls in our barn, and they are indeed very impressive animals. They make no or very little noise in flight, and are lethal on rodents or small reptiles.
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Old September 9th, 2015, 09:39 AM   #3
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One reason for owls getting a special reputation is of course their nightly behaviour and their hooting during darks hours. Back home, one can hear tawny owls in the woods during spring.

Eagle owl much more seldom, and in special places, such as cliffs and quarries. It is indeed an impressive bird, not hesitating to strike on fairly large preys like foxes or other birds of prey.
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Old September 9th, 2015, 09:50 AM   #4

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Heh, my ex-girlfriend had an obsession with owls.

I don't understand why, but animals that are black and white are especially gorgeous to me. I first saw the Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) as a child in the Salisbury Zoo, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. In the wild, they are natives of Latin America.

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Old September 9th, 2015, 10:28 AM   #5

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burrowing owl
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owl depicted in an Egyptian tomb painting;
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Old September 9th, 2015, 12:28 PM   #6

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But what about the pussycat?
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Old September 9th, 2015, 12:42 PM   #7

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The Egyptian hieroglyph of the owl presents a curiosity: it's a bird not showing the profile, but its entire face [quite rare among hieroglyphs related to birds].

To be more accurate the face looks at you, the body shows its profile, as usual.

The phonetic value is "m" and it's used in "mm" and "m(i)" [verb "to give", imperative].

There is a possibility that also in Ancient Egypt they considered the owl a problem about misfortune [mummies of owl have usually got the head separated from the body, beheaded ...], the reference made to the verb "hsk" - to cut the neck to a bird - is not that certain, it's argument of philological discussion.
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Old September 9th, 2015, 12:51 PM   #8

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I've always liked Great Gray Owls the most. Unfortunately, I live too far south and so I've never seen one.

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Old September 9th, 2015, 01:37 PM   #9

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There is a great horned owl that lives near my house and it kills mice quite often.
Remember when I had those barn owl avatars?
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Old September 9th, 2015, 02:22 PM   #10

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Among the Apache and Navajo, owls are the ghosts of the dead and evil omens. To die honorably in battle, or at the end of a long honorable life, the departed will find their way to a happy ending reunited with nature. For cowards and those whose life choices are at odds with the tribal standards, their confusion in life carries over into death and they are doomed to wander. Witches, known to commune with the dead, were often believed to be nearby when owls are identified in the vicinity.

If one dies in the night, they may have trouble finding their way to peace. They can get lost in darkness and their souls transformed into ... owls. For this reason, Apache attacks were seldom made before the first light of dawn. The leader of the raid/war party would throw a small pebble into the air, and if it could be seen from hand to earth, it was time to attack. Attacking from a height with the sun to their backs, the Apache had a great advantage over their victims still sluggish from sleep.

Hogans or wickiups where death occurred were shut up and abandoned. Sometimes the death house would be burned, and the location avoided for a long time afterward. The deceased could no longer be referred to by name for fear of attracting the interest of the dead. If an owl was spotted, or heard, it was common for the whole band to move away to avoid contamination with the ghost.
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