(SPOILER conversation of Hedwig in book 7—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—is here.)

No spoilers past this point:

Now that five Harry Potter movies and also all seven books have been released, world have become very familiar through owls. This website will provide you facts about owls both in the actual world and also in J.K. Rowling’s magical world. Ns live in the joined States, however Harry Potter stays in England. Some owls live in both places, and some are uncovered on just one side of the pond. I’ve learned owls for a long time and read all seven Harry Potter books and also seen the movies, however I just couldn’t have written this and also made that authoritative without a lot of assist from a lot of people. If you have information I must add, corrections, or other comments, please email me.

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In J.K. Rowling’s wonderful universe, owls leg the magical and muggle world, transferring messages, packages, and also even Nimbus 2000s v ease as they do it clear to muggles that once a message needs to obtain through, it WILL get through. One Snowy Owl called Hedwig also provides warm companionship once a lonely wizard called Harry demands it.

If you have questions around owls, first look to check out if you can find the answer here. If not, you deserve to email Professor McGonagowl. As always, if you have questions, comments, or corrections, please let me know. Come get more information, see:


Harry’s owl Hedwig is a Snowy Owl. She’s a female but, in the movie, the actors play her space males. (One the the owls playing Hedwig was likewise the very very first cast member to be chosen!!) You can tell that the owl play Hedwig in the picture is yes, really a male since his plumage is so white—female Snowy Owls have dark markings. Females are also bigger and heavier, and so would certainly be a little harder for human actors to handle. Healthy and balanced males average around 4 pounds, females virtually 4 1/2 pounds. Lock have an effective talons. You can’t see in the photograph that Daniel Radcliffe is wearing special leather protection on his arm. Claws that deserve to kill a huge duck v thick feathers can be pretty hard on human being arms, too, even when the owl is simply trying come balance itself.


Seven various owls played the duty of Hedwig. Their names space Gizmo, Kasper, Oops, Swoops, five Oh, Elmo and Bandit. I found out some interesting things on The Pet ar site around Harry Potter.

Real Snowy Owls live in the arctic tundra, in phibìc America, Europe, and Asia. A couple of breed in the north British Isles. Part misidentified cavern art by Paleolithic world of Europe contains owls on a cave wall surface in Ariege, France; in many sources (such as previously iterations the this an extremely page), consisting of authoritative ones, the illustration is determined as Snowy Owl, but this very first owl portrayed in art anywhere in the people is almost certainly a Long-eared Owl, as explained by the Bradshaw Foundation.

Snowy Owls room predators, and also eat just animals, never plants. Their main prey types is the lemming, a fierce small rodent smaller than a chipmunk. Lemmings have enormous population fluctuations indigenous one year come the next. Once lemmings room abundant, Snowy Owls may eat solid anything else. They normally swallow each lemming whole, head first, yet if they’re not as well hungry, they periodically bite off simply the head, or even eat parts in tiny bits. But when lemming numbers space down, Snowy Owls eat a lot of other things. Depending on where castle live, they might eat a many snowshoe hares, grebes and ducks (especially Horned Grebes), ptarmigans, floor squirrels, rats, partridge, and also even fish. As soon as a Snowy Owl’s challenge gets gooped up through blood and also guts, it occasionally cleans increase by wiping its confront in the snow.You have the right to see more photos of wild Snowy Owls on my Snowy Owl flickr photostream. Worldwide warming is expected to hurt Snowy Owls over lot of their range. Hedwig is lucky she lives in a magical world!


The Weasley family members has a very clumsy owl named Errol. In the movies he’s a an excellent Gray Owl. I don’t think his varieties is actually stated in the books, yet my friend Katty native Belgium discovered that the IS dubbed a an excellent Gray Owl on J.K. Rowling’s net site. Measured indigenous head to tail, the great Gray Owl is the greatest owl in the world. Yet even despite they’re an inch or so much longer than Snowy Owls and look just as big, they weigh much much less than Snowy Owls—sometimes less than half! Also, your wingspan isn’t as long as that of Snowy Owls, probably due to the fact that their wing don’t carry practically as much weight. Good Gray Owls specialization on mice and also voles, and also have very thin toes compared to other huge owls.


In phibìc America, wild an excellent Gray Owls live in Alaska and much that Canada down to northeastern Minnesota, and also down into the mountainous locations of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, and also Wyoming. In Europe and Asia, lock are found in northern Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, north Mongolia, north Manchuria, Amurland, and also Sakhalin. They do it to good Britain just in the magical world of take care of Potter.

Real great Gray Owls can not carry an extremely heavy items due to the fact that they themselves space so light (usually much less than 3 pounds!), and their feet are relatively weak. When I to be taking treatment of hurt birds, i once had to walk rescue a great Gray Owl that ns then transferred to a raptor specialist. I had it for a little while, and also was amazed at just how innocuous that feet were. I usually took care of songbirds, for this reason didn’t have the heavy gloves typically worn when doing raptor work, but this owl’s talons didn’t pains my bare hands in ~ all. Normally over 90% that a great Gray Owl’s diet is one species—meadow voles. As soon as they eat larger prey, such together rabbits and squirrels, they should sit top top the animal for many hours, biting off tiny chunks that meat.

! (https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6001/5931412346_f1e615b010_b.jpg I’m stop this wild, but injured, great Gray Owl in my ceiling hands. It’s not tame—it go on come be properly rehabbed in ~ The Raptor Center—but an excellent Gray Owl talons aren’t very an effective compared to other owls.)

The Weasley’s good Gray Owl, Errol, is really clumsy. Real owls merely cannot crash the way Errol walk in the movie. Not even the owl actor who plays Errol might really crash like that—like other birds, owls have actually hollow bones and also are much too delicate to slam into tables and windows. In the movie, lock filmed a real good Gray Owl flying gracefully v the Errol scenes. Then they substituted a fake owl for the crashes.

! (https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5044/5247938064_9e3e4404b4_b.jpg notification how slim the branch is supporting this good Gray Owl’s weight.)

! (https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8657/16390439391_42b567c5eb_b.jpg an excellent Gray Owls are one of the most impressive of every owls.)

You can see countless photos the wild an excellent Gray Owls top top my an excellent Gray Owl flickr photostream.


Pigwidgeon is therefore minute the some world have suggested to me the he could be a tiny Owl, one very little owl uncovered in England. This owl’s clinical name is Athene noctua, and also it is relatively common in much of its range, in southern and central Europe and Asia, and also northern Africa. Small Owls aren’t native to England, however were introduced there in the so late 1800s. Little Owls room not found anywhere normally in north America, yet they room in the very same genus, and closely associated to, the Burrowing Owl. Choose the Burrowing Owl, the little Owl is uncovered in open up habitats, and is often active in the daytime as well as the night. The small Owl regularly perches top top posts and also other look-outs. Like many tiny owls, the tiny Owl eats plenty of insects, which that can record on the wing.



The small Owl does have actually some amazing mythology that its own, gift the spiritual owl that the goddess Athene—that’s exactly how it obtained its clinical name. And also it is presented on coins from ancient Athens.

But according to J.K. Rowling’s very own website, and also supported by mar Grandpre‘s lover illustrationin chapter 22 of take care of Potter and also the prisoner of Azkaban, Pigwidgeon is a Eurasian (Common) Scops Owl.


This owl, also tinier than a little Owl and more closely pertained to the screech owls of America, has “ear tufts”—feathers that stick up on the head and also look choose ears. The owl illustration for this chapter clearly shows those feather tufts.


We hope the moviemakers would usage a scops owl as soon as Pigwidgeon finally appeared, however he wasn’t in the movie at all, which has actually been a huge disappointment to me and many others!

What would certainly Pigwidgeon sound like? You have the right to listen come recordings the various varieties of scops owls here.

Ron appeared resentful to have actually such a tiny pet compared to Harry’s Hedwig. But we gambling he didn’t need to work virtually as difficult to clean up after Pigwidgeon together Harry did for Hedwig! Owl poop is smelly and also messy. (Unless they’re magical owls—we notice that Harry’s black color cloak never has actually a solitary white clues on it!)

Malfoy’s Owl

Malfoy’s owl is the largest, heaviest owl in Europe, an Eagle Owl. Eagle Owls space not found in the joined States—they live in Europe and also Asia. Eagle Owls are not native to an excellent Britain, yet a couple of pairs have actually escaped captivity. Researchers hope lock don’t become established in the wild in England since like all presented animals, castle will almost assuredly annoy the balance of nature already there. But in their native selection these magnificent birds are vital part of the balance. Eagle Owls have oranger eye than great Horned Owls, room slightly larger, and have heavy, vertical streaks ~ above the front, quite than the finer, horizontal barring of the great Horned Owl. Again, notification how that perches v the 2 normal prior toes dealing with forward. (The “thumb” toe and the back toe face backward).


Percy’s Screech Owl

I didn’t pay sufficient attention to another owl—Percy’s! Fortunately, my girlfriend Katty writes:

In the take care of Potter Lexicon about owls, they pointed out a screech owl.And in chapter 5 of prisoner of Azkaban, you can find: “…Percy’s screech owl, …”(when Rowling described the Weasleys, Hermione and also Harry leave the Leaky Cauldron.)

Considering that my very own owl, Archimedes, is a screech owl, ns really should have found this on mine own!


Other Owls showing up Here and There

Throughout the harry Potter movies, there are many owls here and there.

The owl shown in countless of the posters, screensaver, and other promotional product for the movie, Harry Potter and also the Sorcerer’s Stone, is a an excellent Horned Owl.


This owl resides in North, Central, and also South America, but is not uncovered in the wild in England or any kind of other location on that side the the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t recognize if this promotional material was provided in England, however it renders a lot of sense for an American owl to deliver invitations to the movie to human being in Canada and the U.S. Notification that the owl has two former claws on every foot facing forward. Owls have three prior toes and also one back toe on each foot. However one that the prior claws is opposable, and also rotates behind the method we use our thumb. Therefore the method this owl is transferring the letter come Harry is, indeed, precisely the method a real owl would lug mail. An alert that owls like air mail.

! (http://media.inter-base.net/images/85f6d5f0-fafa-4123-be2c-195400110157_LOTSofOwls-web.jpg actual owls wouldn’t be comfortable being so nearby to other owls. This scene was made using distinct filming techniques.)

In real life, large species that owls occasionally eat smaller sized species. Genuine owls are exceptionally stressed by being near other owls. However filming the scene shown over did not tension the owls. Why? This scene was filmed over and also over, with different owls each time, and then the movies were digitally manipulated to make it show up that every the owls to be there together at the same time.

! (http://media.inter-base.net/images/a8121040-360a-4494-a816-4b471778ec66_GtGrayDiagonAlleyWEB.jpg The very first Harry Potter movie offered owls a lot to develop the magical world.)

Notes about the fourth movie: My friend Katty indigenous Belgium, that is remote so notices a an excellent many sounds i don’t pay enough attention to, writes:

Yesterday, I witnessed the fourth film and was happy to hear different owl sounds.In this movie, we entered the owlery (not a circular rock room as defined in the books,but it seemed to be located exterior the school).I don’t recognize if you deserve to see lot of the owl species during this scene, but I heard the sounds of:

little owlbarn owl (maybe)eagle owlsnowy owl???other varieties I didn’t recognise. They seemed to be very active, but I don’t know if that is night or work in the film.

During the film, you deserve to hear various other owl species, yet I don’t recognize if you have the right to see them. Ns heard:

little owl (on the graveyardtawney owl??barn owl

The only species (and owl character) i didn’t check out or hear was Pigwidgeon.

Frequently request Questions

Could a real owl really bring a Nimbus 2000?

! (http://media.inter-base.net/images/c6904f12-3f12-437d-bd26-ab99d0769366_HedwigwithNimbus2000Zoom.jpg Hedwig has actually a existing for Harry! Is there really a broom in that bag?)

Snowy Owl frequently kill snowshoe hares and can carry them to your nestlings. A snowshoe hare weighs end 1 kilogram. I weighed one corn broom as 0.6 kilograms, therefore the weight of a genuine broom wouldn’t be a trouble for a Snowy Owl. And also a Snowy Owl’s talons can easily grip a broom handle. Therefore yes, a real Snowy Owl can really bring a Nimbus 2000. However the Snowy Owl in this scene merely flew through, and also then the filmmakers digitally included the broom. This wasn’t too tough to do. In the arctic tundra, wherein there are no trees for Snowy Owls come bonk into in flight, they frequently dangle their legs in flight. Therefore in this scene, the genuine owl’s legs are already in position to be carrying something.

Tiny owls deserve to easily bring mice, therefore letters and also birthday greetings would be fairly easy because that them to manage. But according come The pets Place:

Although transparent the movie, it shows up the owls bring messages and even thebroom, they no actually host the objects. Instead, they were attached come the birds using an invisible harness. Once they got to the appropriate point, a trainer traction a cord, which exit the message or object.

Also, notification that the broom the was ceded in the movie was really made out of paper.

Can genuine owls be happy in cages?

The cage Harry often keeps Hedwig in is way too small for any real owl, and also the tiny Victorian cage provided in the movie would certainly be illegal to keep an owl in one of two people the U.S. Or an excellent Britain. Good Britain needs all bird cages to be big enough to enable the bird come stretch its wings fully without poignant anything. To save it in noþeles smaller needs a vet certificate. However the owl play Hedwig is most likely used come a relatively small cage as soon as he walk places, the means dogs or cats gain used to a little pet transport or kennel, as lengthy as lock don’t should stay in the too lengthy or also often.


Are real owls ever energetic in the daytime?

Owls that live in the Arctic, “the floor of the midnight sun,” obviously have actually to be able to hunt in bright conditions. Snowy Owls deserve to hunt by job or night. And also some other owls are very diurnal—the northern Hawk-Owl and the an ext tropical Pygmy-Owls are energetic in the daytime.

! (https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5047/5361232433_eb47a64836_b.jpg northern Hawk Owl, active at midday.)

Many owls space crepuscular—most active at twilight. And also some are active ONLY in ~ night—the small Saw-whet Owl and also Boreal Owl are an excellent examples.


My own tiny owl, Archimedes, reminds me of a cat. He’s active when the feels like it and also sleeps as soon as he feels favor it, day or night.


In the wild, Screech Owls roost and nest in tree cavities or colony boxes, and are an extremely vulnerable come jays, robins,and crows in the daytime, however they need some sunshine to create Vitamin D, therefore they spend much of the day v their head poking out of the hole. If a cranky robin or jay spots one, the tiny owl simply retreats earlier into the cavity.

Can civilization really have actually owls for pets?

In the magical civilization of bother Potter, a magician or witch have the right to own a genuine owl. In the real world, in England, civilization are permitted to store owls listed the bird have the right to be displayed to it is in captive bred or found disabled and unable come be returned to the wild—in stimulate to show owls because that money or to each other them for sale, human being in the U.K. Require to have actually what is recognized as an “Article 10 certificate,” which attributes much together a licence because that the bird.

In the U.S., maintaining owls because that pets is always against the law. In the U.S., owls and all other indigenous birds are protected by the Migratory Bird treaty Act, and cannot be own by anyone that doesn’t have actually legal patent for research study or education, or in the case of an hurt owl, legitimate rehabilitation permits. I have actually permits to save one eastern Screech-Owl for education. I an initial needed come prove that I have actually a an excellent reason to use an owl for educational programs, and also that i could administer healthy, safe, and also comfortable real estate and great food, in stimulate to apply for a permit from the Minnesota room of natural Resources. I required a allow from mine state in stimulate to use for a commonwealth permit native the U.S. Fish and also Wildlife Service. After I had actually both permits, ns was enabled to keep one screech owl, yet wasn’t enabled to take it native the wild. I had to find a rehabilitation center that had actually an owl that had actually recovered however couldn’t be released into the wild. I’ve had Archimedes due to the fact that 2000.

!<“Professor McGonagowl” and also Archimedes> (https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6050/6231151859_8f23a27f24_b.jpg I require state and federsal patent to keep Archimedes together my education and learning bird)

How have the right to I view a real, live owl in the wild?

Owls are secretive in the daytime, because they are often struck by crows, ravens, jays, robins, and other birds. If you’re wade in the woods or in a park and also hear what sounds prefer exceptionally angry chickadees, or a large number of exceptionally loud crows, examine it out! They may be mobbing an owl. At nighttime you deserve to listen because that owls, particularly in late winter and also spring. To hear how some owls sound, you deserve to look at journey North’s owl dictionary.

Find the end if your town or city has an Audubon culture or various other bird club. Most bird clubs have field trips, and also will have professionals along to assist you watch all the birds. And also they can have some unique trips simply to discover owls!

How deserve to I assist owls?

There are numerous things we deserve to do to assist owls.

Don’t let her dog follow birds.When an owl kills a big prey animal, it periodically spends numerous minutes ~ above the floor eating. During this time, the can quickly be eliminated or badly hurt by a dog. We know of at least one screech owl that was got hold of by a dog, and also the tiny owl’s wing was broken. If people had not noticed, the would have died, but now it’s in a rehab facility.

Leave dead trees standing.If lock absolutely should be cut, climate to carry out it in the late fall/early winter to ensure no babies are in the nest.

Put up a lumber Duck/Screech Owl crate or a ban Owl nest platform.It’s not a great idea to construct both kinds close to one another, though!

Don’t also think about having an owl because that a pet.

See more: The Sun Is But A Morning Star, Thoreau And Walden: American Nature Writing

Owls are protected by law, so it’s illegal to save them in bondage in the U.S. There is no a license. But at the very least as important, owls are wild, natural birds requiring a wild, herbal life. In cages they merely cannot perform all the points their bodies to be designed for and also their spirits require. Also, owls are not in ~ all simple to care for: they must eat entirety rodents or other entirety animals, which should be fresh, and also their droppings are messy and also smelly, requiring frequent clean-up. If friend yearn to manage real, live owls, volunteer to assist at a nature center or rehabilitation center.