By Ola Suleiman 

Owls are widely and rightly perceived to be nocturnal creatures; organisms that are primarily energetic in the night. They are varmints with the ability to rotate their heads around 270 degrees, which allows them to survey their surroundings without necessarily needing to shift their body.

According to Biology Breakdown, owls are animals that have remarkably vigorous eyesight and a very sound hearing, which stimulates them to hound effectively in the darkness.

They are elegant hunters in low light conditions, and the petty animals become their dinner when darkness envelopes light. Owls feed on the likes of rodents, birds, fish and insects, following the vicious prey and predators course. 

However, there is a multitude of wild beliefs surrounding owls, some of which I shall discuss below.

Humans belong to races, and one surviving factor that marks these races are their cultural beliefs. In Asia, some cultures revere the owl as the goddess of wealth and, expectedly, an omen of prosperity and good fortune, passing down this belief from the ancient times to present day. Some parts of the continent consider owls as the divine messenger.

However, unlike Asians, Africans differ in their impression of owls. They see owls as harbingers of misfortunes of different magnitude. The Yorubas, for instance, believe that the owl (owiwi) is a malevolent bird that runs diabolic errands for witches and wizards. In ancient times, whenever they spotted one on someone’s house, they burnt the entire building to ashes to avert the impending calamity.

While in recent times, people do not go to such extremes to escape the owl’s curse, they still attach the bird as a courier of misfortune and sudden death. They say, “When a man hears the hoot of an owl three times and in succession, he dies”.

Similar to the African-Yoruba mythology, in Polish lore, any adult girl who dies unmarried assumedly turns into a dove while the married ones turn into owls after their death. To them, the cry of the owls symbolizes sorrow. 

So, what is your belief about this creature, and what does it signify in your culture?

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