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O you virtuous owle,
The wise Minerva's only fowle.
Lombard School c1700 Cats being instructed In the art of mouse-catching by an owl

Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about two hundred species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl. Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds although a few species specialize in hunting fish. They are found in all regions of the Earth except Antarctica and some remote islands. Owls are divided into two families: the true owls or typical owls, Strigidae; and the barn-owls, Tytonidae.


  • Owls are not like other birds. I suppose one could say this about any avian tribe, but owls are particularly unlike, with layered dimensions of dissimilarity.
  • While I am talking of owls, it may not be improper to mention what I was told by a gentleman of the country of Wilts. As they were grubbing a vast hollow pollard-ash that had been the mansion of owls for centuries, he discovered at the bottom a mass of matter that at first he could not account for. After some examination, he found that it was a congeries of the bones of mice (and perhaps of birds and bats) that had been heaping together for ages, being cast up in pellets out of the crops of many generations of inhabitants. For owls cast up the bones, fur, and feathers of what they devour, after the manner of hawks. He believes, he told me, that there were bushels of this kind of substance.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 574-75.
  • The large white owl that with eye is blind,
    That hath sate for years in the old tree hollow,
    Is carried away in a gust of wind.
  • The Roman senate, when within
    The city walls an owl was seen,
    Did cause their clergy, with lustrations
    * * * *
    The round-fac'd prodigy t' avert,
    From doing town or country hurt.
  • In the hollow tree, in the old gray tower,
    The spectral Owl doth dwell;
    Dull, hated, despised, in the sunshine hour,
    But at dusk—he's abroad and well!
    Not a bird of the forest e'er mates with him—
    All mock him outright, by day:
    But at night, when the woods grow still and dim,
    The boldest will shrink away!
    O, when the night falls, and roosts the fowl,
    Then, then, is the reign of the Horned Owl!
  • St. Agnes' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold.
  • The wailing owl
    Screams solitary to the mournful moon.
  • The screech-owl, with ill-boding cry,
    Portends strange things, old women say;
    Stops every fool that passes by,
    And frights the school-boy from his play.
  • It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,
    Which gives the stern'st good night.
  • O you virtuous owle,
    The wise Minerva's only fowle.
  • When cats run home and light is come,
    And dew is cold upon the ground,
    And the far-off stream is dumb,
    And the whirring sail goes round,
    And the whirring sail goes round;
    Alone and warming his five wits,
    The white owl in the belfry sits.
  • Then lady Cynthia, mistress of the shade,
    Goes, with the fashionable owls, to bed.
  • Encyclopedic article on Owl on Wikipedia
  • The dictionary definition of owl on Wiktionary
  • Media related to Strigiformes on Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Strigiformes on Wikispecies