- "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.
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.
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.
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
- Hedwig - Snowy Owl, companion to Harry Potter
- Errol - a very old Great Grey Owl owned by the Weasley family
- Hermes - Western Screech Owl, belongs to Percy Weasley
- Pigwidgeon also known as "Pig" - Scops Owl, owned by Ron Weasley
- Hawk-like (possibly Eagle) owl - presumably companion to the Lovegoods
- Draco Malfoy's Eagle Owl - companion to Draco Malfoy and/or his family.
- Longbottom family's Barn Owl
- Termeritus Shanks's Snowy Owl
- Brodwin - belonged to the Prime Minister.
- The numerous post owls from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
- The numerous post owls from the Owl Post Office in Hogsmeade
- The members of the Egyptian Owl Union
Behind the scenes
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in portrait(s))
- Quidditch Through the Ages (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- The Queen's Handbag
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter LEGO Sets
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
Notes and references