Encyclopedia Article


There are over 200 species of owl, a mostly nocturnal bird of prey found on almost every continent. Owls eat small rodents, insects, and other birds. Their acute powers of vision, strong sense of hearing, and silent flight all contribute to their reputations as formidable hunters.

Some cultures traditionally avoid owls, as they are believed to foretell the passing of a loved one. Additionally, as in the case of the Navajo, owls are believed to be inhabited by the ghosts of the dead, thereby causing ghost sickness in those they encounter.

Photo Credit: 

"Barn owl taking flight, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, April 6, 2013" by Ken Bosma is licensed under CC BY.