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"Owls are magical creatures most often used for delivering post and parcels in the wizarding world. They are known for their speed and discretion and can find recipients without an address."

Owls are birds of prey. They belong to the families of Strigidae (typical owls) and Tytonidae (Barn Owls), and there are at least 200 species. They normally feed on small mammals, insects, fish, and other birds. They do not make nests, instead sheltering inside trees, ground burrows, caves, and barns, or using other birds' old nests. Owls do not live in flocks, but the term for a group of owls is a parliament. The study of owls is a branch of ornithology. Owls also appear to understand English and are able to communicate with wizards.

Normally, most owls are nocturnal, and owls generally keep to themselves, but in the wizarding world they serve many needed functions and have many sorts of personalities.

Postal workers


Owl post

Owls are enlisted to aid communication between wizards. Letters, parcels, and Howlers are all delivered by owls. Soft, hair-like edges on an owl's flight feathers reduce the noise of flight, coupled with their natural camouflage, making them ideal for delivering letters.[2]

Owls must be trained to carry letters. Owls have a natural affinity to magic (unlike pigs, which are thouroughly non-magical), and are thus able to locate the recipient of a letter without an address. Because owls are able to locate any witch or wizard for whom a letter is addressed, those who do not wish to be contacted must cast Repelling, Disguising, or Masking spells, of which a wide variety exists.

Owls are used for commercial purposes, such as the Owl Post Office in Hogsmeade, and delivering newspapers and magazines such as the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler. The Ministry of Magic formerly used owls for interdepartmental memos, but switched to enchanted paper aeroplanes because owls made too much mess with their droppings and shed feathers.

Postal owls all have different jobs, but it is the duty of a Scops Owl for local deliveries only, as they are small and weak fliers.


Errol 2

Errol in flight

The smallest owl is the Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi), which lacks the feathers for silent flying. The Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) is slightly larger than the Elf Owl, but with serrated feathers. The Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) has curvy feathers on its brow and ears; this is possibly the species of the "hawk-like owl" which was part of the Lovegood family. The Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca) is native to the Arctic.

List of species

Known owls

Screenshot 969

Owl of Minerva McGonagall

See also

Behind the scenes

OWL carrying a message

Owl carrying a message.

  • During the production of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, an attempt was made to train bats to carry letters, but this was abandoned because bats urinate during flight.
  • It took trainers three months to train owls to carry letters for the films.
  • In April 2009, a falconer whose owls starred in the Harry Potter films admitted a string of animal cruelty offences.[4]
  • In many legends, owls represent death. But in other legends, like those of Ancient Greece, owls are a symbol of wisdom. In India, owls are birds of ill omen.
  • In reality, the Brown Owl and the Tawny Owl are the same species (Strix aluco), but the Harry Potter books treat them as different types of owl.
  • In an issue of The Quibbler seen in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, an advertisement offering Owl-training can be seen, suggesting this is a business in the Wizarding World.
  • At some point following the publication of the Harry Potter books, there was a series of media reports regarding an upswing the popularity of owls as pets, allegedly as a result of people having read about them in the books. Author J. K. Rowling stated on her official website "If it is true that anybody has been influenced by my books to think that an owl would be happiest shut in a small cage and kept in a house, I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can: please don't."[5]
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, there are many owls trying to bring Harry Hogwarts letters. In the book, Harry first learns that owls carry letters when Rubeus Hagrid uses one in the Hut on the rock.
  • It is unknown if, like humans, some owls are born with magical abilities, or if there is any other special rquirement for an owl to be trained as a delivery owl.


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