Owls And People

Owls have always inspired the human imagination. A Paleolithic rock painting of an owl is one of the oldest known human drawings. The Bible describes owls as birds of waste places and forbids eating them. In many cultures owls are considered bad omens or creatures of the underworld, probably because they fly at night and have spooky-sounding calls. The sight or sound of an owl is thought to warn of death. This idea is seen repeatedly in the plays of William Shakespeare.

Not every culture has feared owls. In ancient Greece the owl was the symbol of Athena, the goddess of wisdom. In their nighttime activity, owls were thought to be like hard-working scholars. Owls continue to be a symbol of education in the United States in the twenty-first century.

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