Owl post

Owl Post

Vernon Dursley: "What does she mean, 'the normal way'?""
Harry Potter: "Normal for us, you know, owl post. That's what's normal for wizards."
— Harry mentioning owl post[src]

Owl post is a wizarding system of sending messages or items using owls as the carriers. Besides the Owl Post Office, individuals and organisations with their own owls use them as their mail bearers — owls are employed by wizards in such numbers that is estimated that virtually all of them are either the property of the Postal Service or individual wizards.[1] Harry Potter's owl, Hedwig, was used as his primary means of communicating with his friends and his godfather, Sirius Black. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had a number of owls that anyone at the school could use. They, along with students' personal owls, were kept in the Owlery.


Hogwarts use

At Hogwarts, owls live in the Owlery in the West Tower and deliver mail to students once a day, at breakfast – though more urgent messages are frequently delivered to Harry in his dormitory.

Hogwarts also has a number of school owls, which can be used by students who do not own an owl themselves. Harry used school owls on several occasions when he needed to contact Sirius without attracting attention. These owls seem to be used on occasion even to communicate across the school, such as when Hagrid sends a note to Harry at the end of his first week at Hogwarts, though this method seems to be given up by Harry’s sixth year, when notes are instead regularly delivered in the hands of students.

Beginning in Harry’s fifth year, all owl post into Hogwarts was searched and inspected as a security precaution. This was originally seen as an overbearing method of control by the Ministry of Magic and Dolores Umbridge, but once Voldemort’s return became public it was widely accepted. Intercepting owls can be done crudely or routinely. Hedwig was hurt when Umbridge intercepts her letter, but the Weasleys’ mail and Hogwarts mail is later searched as a matter of routine, with no harm coming to the animals.

Business use

Owls are also used for institutional deliveries, the first time we see an owl making a delivery is when one arrives with Hagrid’s Daily Prophet in the hut-on-the-rock. In this case, the owl has a pouch which it uses to collect Hagrid’s money.[2] Later, though, Hermione takes out a subscription to the Daily Prophet as well, and the owls that deliver it don’t seem to collect anything.

Owls are also used by some businesses for Owl Order Service, to deliver goods. This service comes into prominent use, when a Slug Club Christmas party is approaching his sixth year, and girls buy love potions from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes through Fred and George’s Owl Order Service. Fred Weasley and George Weasley conducted much of their business for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes via an owl order service.

In 1995, the British Ministry of Magic enacted several laws regarding censorship of owl post.

Use of owls

"All the kids want owls, they're dead useful, carry yer mail an' everythin'."
—Rubeus Hagrid[src]
Post owls are quite intelligent, and can usually find their mail's recipient with little to no direction.

Other birds can be used for delivering messages. Sirius Black, while in hiding, sent unspecified tropical birds as message carriers while communicating with Harry Potter. This lead Harry to speculate that Sirius was hiding in a warmer environment than England. However, the preponderant bird used for messaging was the owl. Muggles have their own form of post and therefore do not use owls, nor were they generally aware that owls or other birds could be used for correspondence.

Some magic is used by owls in finding their recipients; Hedwig, for example, is able to easily locate Sirius Black when he is on the run from the Ministry of Magic, even though Aurors are unable to do so.[3] Hedwig also routinely hunts Harry down in Hogwarts, in Gryffindor Tower or even his classes[4], and Pigwidgeon successfully delivers a letter to Harry while he is on the moving Hogwarts Express.[5] However, wizards cannot send an owl to someone they want to find and then “follow” the owl to discover the person’s whereabouts.

Things sent by owl



  • Hagrid writes a note to Dumbledore letting him know he's successfully picked up Harry
  • According to Hagrid, Cornelius Fudge peppers Dumbledore with owls asking for advice
  • Harry gets a note from Hagrid inviting him to visit, and replies "Yes, please, see you later" — his first owl post letter
  • Professor McGonagall sends a note along with a new Nimbus 2000 to Harry
  • Charlie sends a note Ron with Hedwig agreeing to take Norbert, after Ron presumably writes him to ask, and Ron replies
  • Quirrell sends Dumbledore an urgent note, supposedly from the Ministry of Magic, to lure him away from Hogwarts
  • Hagrid sends owls to James and Lily's old school friends to obtain photos of them for Harry (who are they, besides Lupin?)


  • Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid send a "thick wad of envelopes" to Harry over the summer, but Dobby intercepts them
  • Shortly after Dobby performs a Hover Charm, Harry receives a letter from Mafalda Hopkirk warning him against doing magic
  • Second year booklists arrive from Hogwarts while Harry is at The Burrow
  • Ron uses Errol to write Hermione, and she replies with plans to meet them at Diagon Alley
  • Dumbledore writes to the Weasleys and Dursleys after Ron and Harry crash the car into the Whomping Willow
  • Mrs Weasley sends Ron a Howler when she finds out he took the car
  • Harry addresses envelopes to be sent to Gilderoy Lockhart's fans while in detention
  • Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore sends Nearly Headless Nick a letter rejecting his application to the Headless Hunt (how did he send that?)
  • Dumbledore writes to Azkaban to secure Hagrid's release
  • The eleven governers of Hogwarts, other than Lucius Malfoy, barrage Dumbledore with owls asking for his return to Hogwarts


  • Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid all write to Harry on his 13th birthday
  • Harry's third year Hogwarts letter arrives with Hagrid's birthday gift as well
  • Augusta Longbottom sends Neville's Hogsmeade letter directly to Professor McGonagall
  • Neville receives a Howler from Augusta as well, after he loses the Gryffindor Tower passwords
  • Hagrid writes to ask Harry and Ron to come visit him, to discuss Hermione
  • Hagrid writes to Hermione to let her know that Buckbeak lost at his trial
  • Hagrid writes to Ron to tell him that Buckbeak's lost his appeal as well
  • Harry receives a letter from Sirius on the Hogwarts Express, explaining the Firebolt, giving him permission to go to Hogsmeade, and giving Pigwidgeon to Ron
  • Sirius says that Crookshanks took his Firebolt order to the Owl Office, where presumably it was then sent in


  • Sirius writes to Harry twice from his hiding place; the letters are sent not with owls but tropical birds
  • Harry writes to Sirius for the first time to let him know that his scar twinged
  • Ron sends his first letter with Pigwidgeon to invite Harry to the Quidditch World Cup
  • A large number of people send Howlers to the Ministry of Magic to complain about Quidditch World Cup security
  • Sirius writes Harry to let him know he's flying north, worried about Harry's safety
  • Harry responds to Sirius to ask him not to return to Britain, and sends the note with Hedwig
  • Sirius writes back to Harry with Hedwig to let him know he's hidden in Britain
  • Harry sends a school owl to Sirius informing him that his name was picked for the Triwizard Tournament
  • Sirius replies to Harry and asks for a face to face meeting on November 22
  • Pigwidgeon delivers congratulations from Sirius on Harry's getting past the Hungarian Horntail
  • Sirius sends a brown owl with a very short letter: "Send date of next Hogsmeade weekend by return owl."
  • Sirius asks Harry to bring him food and meet with him on the next Hogsmeade weekend
  • The trio writes to Percy to ask whether he's seen Mr Crouch; he responds irritably
  • After Rita Skeeter's article defaming Hermione, she gets hate mail; Hagrid says he'd received some too
  • Harry continues to regularly write Sirius in the cave near Hogsmeade
  • Fred and George send owls to Ludo Bagman demanding their money, though the trio doesn't figure it out until later
  • Harry sends Sirius an owl to tell him about his excursion into Dumbledore's Pensieve
  • Sirius berates Harry for walking the grounds with Viktor Krum and starts sending daily owls


  • A barrage of owls is sent to Harry after he produces a Patronus in Little Whinging:
    • Mafalda Hopkirk expells him from Hogwarts and informs him that his wand will be snapped;
    • Arthur Weasley tells Harry not to leave his house or surrender his wand;
    • Mafalda Hopkirk again writes, rescinding Harry's expulsion and notifying him of a hearing;
    • Sirius writes to tell Harry not to leave the house;
    • Dumbledore sends a Howler to Petunia with the mysterious message, "Remember my last"
  • Hogwarts booklists —  and prefects' badges —  arrive at number twelve, Grimmauld Place
  • Harry sends a cryptic message to Sirius about Umbridge and Hagrid; Filch accuses him of placing dungbomb orders but Cho backs Harry up
  • Cho Chang sends some message, presumably, as she meets Harry in the Owlery
  • Percy sends an unexpected letter to Ron, urging him to distance himself from Harry
  • Sirius sends Harry a note —  "Today, same time, same place" —  but Hedwig is intercepted and injured en route to Harry
  • We see Hermione write a letter to Krum, but never get confirmation that it is sent
  • Molly Weasley sends a letter to Sirius, Harry, and her children that Arthur is alive after the snake attack, though it is sent with Fawkes rather than by owl post
  • Gilderoy Lockhart announces that he still receives fan mail
  • When his Quibbler interview is released, Harry receives a number of letters from those agreeing and disagreeing with him
  • Percy Weasley sends an owl to the Daily Prophet when Dumbledore confesses to forming an army against Fudge


  • Dumbledore sends Harry a note to let him know he'll be coming to pick him up at Privet Drive
  • Owls deliver O.W.L. results to Harry, Ron, and Hermione at The Burrow
  • Booklists arrive at the Burrow, with news that Harry is Quidditch captain
  • Bob Ogden sends an owl to notify the Gaunts he will be coming, but they don't accept it
  • Parents send regular owls to their children at Hogwarts to make sure they're okay after Voldemort's return

Items sent by owl

Behind the scenes

See also


Notes and references