Owls: Haunting and Mysterious...

By: Carly Hill - Staff Writer • Jul 09, 2012 • 0 Comments

Birds are delightful.  They flutter and sing and fill the sky with beauty.  But, those cheerful, little creatures have a dark a side.  They destroy crops, peck holes in your roof and leave their mark on your car and an unsuspecting shoulder.  Some even carry disease.  So, someone, somewhere, long ago came up with a solution – the scare tactic.  Using a fake owl to scare birds away has been a popular solution for centuries.

Owls are predators and just the sight of an owl-lookalike sends most birds jetting.  Fake owls perched on the tops of buildings are essentially scarecrows.  However, an antique owl like the one pictured above, is an eclectic piece that adds an element of mystery to any room.   This particular owl was used as a rooftop owl in 19th century France.

Antique owls are very symbolic. Signifying a range of different things, they are a versatile addition.  They denote wisdom, studiousness, insight, clairvoyance, and swiftness.  On a darker side, they stand for deception, omens, secrets, and the underworld.  Whichever way you look at an antique owl, there’s no doubt that it brings a certain haunting, medieval feel to any space.

Owls are found on every continent on earth.  They are nocturnal loners who sleep in caves and hollow trees and feed on rodents, toads, insects, and small birds.  Because they have binocular vision, they must turn their heads almost all the way around (270 degrees in each direction) to see what’s going on behind them.  Owl eyes have what are called nictitating membranes which allow them to move independently of one another, so they can look to the right and to the left or up and down at the same time.  Their hunting tactics are stealth and surprise.  Being sneaky is not a challenge for them as they are flying is silent. Owls range in size from 5 inches to a looming 33 inches.  The elf and saw-whet owls from the southwest U.S. are on the smaller side, while the eagle owls of Eurasia, the hawk owl from Australia, the great horned owl of North America, and the snowy and great grey owls of the Arctic dominate at around 2 feet tall. 

Ask any antique enthusiast  - learning about an antique is one of the most rewarding parts of the whole process. In the course of the next few blogs, we’ll be featuring different animal-themed pieces and learning little bit more about the animals they showcase.  Oftentimes, like in the case of the dark, spooky owl, the vibe that the piece brings to a room matches the temperament and lifestyle of the animal it represents. 

Our newest dealer member Animal Art Antiques carry the imposing owl pictured above, right here.   Stop by every couple of days as we feature many of the eclectic animal-themed antiques that this charming shop has to offer.  Happy Latiquing!