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"Very smart owl you've got there."
Tom comments on Hedwig's intelligence[src]

Hedwig (d. 27 July, 1997) was Harry Potter's pet Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus).[3] Hedwig was an 11th birthday gift from Rubeus Hagrid to Harry. Hagrid purchased her at Eeylops Owl Emporium.

In addition to the usual use Owls are put to, delivering mail, Hedwig was also a close companion to Harry. She remained one of his closest friends right up to her death during the Battle of the Seven Potters at the height of the Second Wizarding War.

Biography

Purchase

"Harry now carried a large cage that held a beautiful snowy owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing."
—Harry Potter after receiving Hedwig as a gift[src]
Hedwig

Hagrid introduces Hedwig to Harry in 1991

It was Rubeus Hagrid, while helping Harry Potter purchase his school supplies, who bought Hedwig as a birthday present for Harry in Diagon Alley. Harry was obviously delighted with his new pet and was very grateful to Hagrid.[2] This was the first birthday present Harry had ever received, as the Dursleys never celebrated his birthday. He very quickly grew attached to her.

Harry Potter's pet

Harry decided on the name Hedwig after seeing it in A History of Magic. In the days before arriving for his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry avoided the Dursleys by staying in his room. Hedwig stayed with him during this time, his only friend at 4 Privet Drive.[4]

Throughout her life, Hedwig fulfilled the traditional owl's function of delivering mail for Harry, but was also a loyal and affectionate companion; her usual way of showing affection was to gently nibble his ears or fingers. She also demonstrated that she was fully capable of understanding his wishes and would faithfully follow his orders, such as when he instructed her to find and peck Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger to prompt them to write to him during summer holidays.

Hedwig, Seamus, Ron and Harry Potter (1991)

Hedwig with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley

Hedwig was resourceful and intelligent. She once flew to France to deliver Hermione's thirteenth birthday present from Harry while the former was on holiday there with her parents. During Hedwig's journey, Harry relocated to the Leaky Cauldron, having stormed out of Privet Drive after a particularly bad argument. Despite not being in contact with Harry, Hedwig did not return to Privet Drive, but went directly to the Leaky Cauldron, arriving five minutes after him, according to Cauldron's landlord, Tom. Further evidence of Hedwig's resourcefulness is found in the fact that she didn't need a specific address to deliver messages, a name alone was sufficient.

Hedwig was a proud and dignified owl. She responded to behaviour she considered inappropriate by staring or hooting reproachfully. She would sometimes show her displeasure physically, turning her back on Harry (showing him her tail), cuffing him with a wing, or even nipping him a little harder than usual if she was offended. In particular, she seemed a disdainful of the hyperactive behaviour of Ron Weasley's pet owl Pigwidgeon.

Hedwig 1994

Harry having Hedwig deliver a message to Sirius Black

In the summer of 1992, in the holidays between Harry's first and second year at Hogwarts, while staying at the Dursleys, Vernon forced Harry to lock Hedwig in her cage, sometimes for weeks at a time to prevent Harry from sending messages to his "freaky little friends". This caused Hedwig to grow bored and frustrated, a feeling Harry mirrored. Harry felt forgotten by his friends, and mused that Hedwig was the only proof he had that the wizarding world was real. When the Weasley twins, Fred and George, arrived to rescue Harry from Privet Drive in the flying Ford Anglia, Hedwig flew behind the car all the way to The Burrow.

In subsequent summers, Hedwig's frustrated hooting convinced the Dursleys to allow Harry to let her out to fly, on the condition that he didn't use her to send messages. However, Harry sometimes ignored this instruction, possibly dismissing it it entirely after meeting Sirius Black and gaining leverage over the Dursleys.

In the build up to the Second Wizarding War, Hedwig was constrained in what she could do for Harry, due to the fact that Snowy owls aren't native to Britain which made her conspicuous; this could potentially raise suspicions if onlookers witnessed a Snowy owl always going back and forth from a specific location. A specific instance of this was during Sirius Black's evasion of the Ministry of Magic in 1994. Hedwig was keen to deliver messages, but Harry refused to put her at risk and this led to a minor falling out between them.

In 1995, Hedwig was attacked by associates of Dolores Umbridge in an effort to intercept Harry's mail, requiring Dobby and Professor Grubby-Plank to nurse her back to health.

Battle of the Seven Potters and death

"No... NO! Hedwig... Hedwig..."
—Harry's grief due to her death[src]
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Hedwig gets hit with the Killing Curse during the Battle of the Seven Potters

Hedwig was killed in 1997 during the Battle of the Seven Potters. While aboard Hagrid's flying motorcycle with Harry she was struck by a Killing Curse, possibly aimed at Hagrid. She was killed instantly and fell like a rag doll to the bottom of her cage.

To add insult to the injury of losing his much-loved companion, Harry was then forced to destroy the side car containing Hedwig's body in an effort to slow down the pursuing Death Eaters.

Harry was devastated by the loss of Hedwig. His friends were naturally deeply sympathetic and tried to comfort him. Hagrid consoled him by saying that Hedwig had lived "a great old life".

Personality and traits

"Hedwig's large round amber eyes gazed reproachfully at him over the dead frog clamped in her beak... In addition to every other miserable feeling, he now felt guilty that he'd been irritable with Hedwig; she was the only friend at he had at number four, Privet Drive."
—Hedwig expresses her displeasure at Harry's treatment of her[src]
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Harry with Hedwig in 1994, the beginning his Fourth Year

Hedwig was very loyal to Harry and frequently displayed affection for him by nipping him gently. She sometimes fell out with her master, but they always made up with each other before long. Hedwig obeyed Harry's requests and even pecked Ron and Hermione on Harry's orders, in order to get them to write back to him.[5] She was a dignified and proud creature and was disapproving of less mature owls such as Pigwidgeon.[6] Hedwig would also make a lot of noise if she was locked in her cage for too long.[7] Like most owls, Hedwig was a keen hunter and when possible, was allowed to fly outside free and catch food for herself, such as frogs.[8] She would also eat Eeylops Premium Owl Treats.

Etymology

There are two female saints named Hedwig:

  • Saint Hedwig of Andechs (1174–1243), Duchess of Silesia, who is the patron saint of orphans.
  • Saint Hedwig (Jadwiga) (1373–1399), King of Poland. A St Hedwig's Day dedicated to Hedwig of Andechs has been observed in October 16th every year since she was canonised in 1267.

Hedvig - A Norwegian name meaning female warrior or battle.[9]

Behind the scenes

Hedwig Plush

Hedwig plush from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Appearances

Hedwig

Hedwig

Wiki
The Harry Potter Wiki has 71 images related to Hedwig.

Notes and references