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The Symbolic Meaning of Owls

By Saoirse
November 28, 2021
The Symbolic Meaning of Owls
The Symbolic Meaning of Owls
TL;DRHave you ever wondered what’s the meaning of an owl and what are some owl superstitions? Join Mysticsense to explore this and things like what it means to see an owl and what a screech owl is trying to tell you spiritually. Learn what magical things owls stand for and what wisdom and blessings they bring.

Beautiful owls have always fascinated us. From their majestic wingspan to their glowing, hypnotic eyes, owls mesmerize us, and many believe that seeing an owl means more than just the fact the animal is passing by. The meaning of owls to many of us is that are believed to be powerful companions to people, and a way of letting us know what spiritual things we may not have noticed. What does it mean if you see an owl and is an owl a symbol of death? Are owls bad luck or good luck and what does seeing an owl flying at night mean? Discover the meaning of these owl omens and more with us!

What’s an Owl?


The definition of owls is that owls are birds of prey, mostly hunting at night, and while there are only about twenty different kinds of owls native to America, there are over two hundred different kinds of owls worldwide. They live everywhere except the polar regions, and some remote locations. Owls range in size from the tiny sparrow sized elf owl that can be as little as five inches long to the enormous Blackistons Fish Owl that has up to a six-foot wingspan! Owls are meat eaters, hunting mice, other birds, rabbits, fish, squirrels, skunks, small cats and dogs, raccoons, bats, reptiles, insects, and amphibians, depending on their region and what’s available.

Owls are known for their especially sharp night vision and owls hearing that allows them to zone in on exactly where what they can hear is coming from. It is true they can turn their heads almost completely around to look behind them, as they have extra neck bones that allow it, and owls feathers typically allow them to completely blend into their surroundings, making it difficult to see them. Most owls are nocturnal, active at night, but a few species are also active during dusk and dawn. A couple owls, like the short-eared owl are also active in the daytime.

Interestingly enough. While birds in general have come to symbolize love and lifelong partnership, owls are not birds that mate for life typically. Males mate with various females within their established territory, and females tend to take multiple mates during their lives, so you won’t find two owls in love for life very often. Typically living peacefully nearby humans, owls are highly appreciated for the fact they eat so many rodents and small reptiles, which a lot of people consider pests. An owl lifespan varies depending on species and some owls can live as long as nearly thirty years in captivity, not having to worry as much about disease or accidents claiming them for an early death.

What Does an Owl Symbolize?

owl symbolize

More than just a beautiful creature that helps control small, seemingly harmful critters, owls are considered spiritually significant creatures, bringing much magic and deeper supernatural meaning to the people who encounter them. Different people hold different beliefs about owls and their meanings and the meaning behind owls are as varied as how many different kinds of owls they are!

What Does an Owl Hooting Mean?

owl hooting

What does it mean when you hear an owl hooting? Scientifically it can mean different things, including that they are establishing or defending territory. Why does an owl hoot at night specifically? Because that’s when they and other owls are active, and they want to make their personal boundaries known when they think the others can hear it. The meaning of owls hooting is also a form of talking to one another, besides just saying “Back off, this is my home!” Owl hooting meaning can be mating calls to one another and they might be exclaiming from fear or surprise. What does it mean when an owl hoots a lot? A lot of owl sounds meaning can be that they can be having an entire conversation with other owls, or they can be making a LOT of noise to scare off predators.

Hooting owl meaning, spiritually is quite different than the mundane meaning, however. The meaning of hearing an owl is either a good omen or a bad omen, depending on who you ask and some people believe hearing an owl meaning is that their spirit animal owl is speaking to them. When someone hears an owl, it means the owl is communicating something special to them.

While there are different meanings, there are also different sounds. Owls hoot, bark, cluck, screech, cheep, coo, trill, and make a plethora of other sounds. Do owls howl? They don’t howl, but they can make long, loud calls, for certain! Hearing an owl meaning can be any of the omen or superstition meanings many different people believe in. Just don’t be terrified that a hoot owl death sign is absolutely what hearing an owl hoot means, because it can simply mean you were lucky enough to hear the owl’s beautiful voice.

Before reading on, listen to the beautiful calls different owls make that were compiled into this video-Owls of North America and their Calls - YouTube

Seeing an Owl During the Day Meaning

seeing an owl

Seeing an owl in the day can have a different meaning than seeing owls at night. It’s a lot less common to see what some would consider the “shy” owl in the daytime simply because most of them hide out, sleeping in the day to be awake and active in the night. Your morning of owl sighting will either be considered lucky or a warning of bad times to come. The meaning of seeing an owl in daylight is considered a rare, lucky sighting by some people. The well- hidden owl in daylight, when it’s spotted by your keen eyes can mean you will be blessed with wisdom, or that hidden truths will not elude you.

The meaning of seeing an owl during the day for some other people, however, is bad. Owl sightings in daytime can be a sign you will experience a death! If that were true, however, wouldn’t everybody die whenever they saw an owl? Seeing an owl is not necessarily a bad thing!

Seeing an Owl at Night Meaning

owl at night

You are far more likely to see an owl at night than during the day. How to see an owl at night is patiently. Know where they live and hunt, and quietly wait there to see them. If you are lucky, in silence and the stillness of the night, you might see an owl flying at night. It means you are seeing them on the hunt or going from place to place. What does the owl symbol mean spiritually if you see one at night as opposed to during daytime? It can mean the same thing seeing an owl in the daytime does, actually. They may be bringing you that good owl luck, and they can also be alerting you that you will receive some message from the spirits or messages about impending death.

Some superstitions even believe seeing or hearing an owl means your child will become a worker of malevolent magic, or that the owl is warning you that a baby is about to die. In the Middle Ages, it was also believed that any animal active at night like owls, cats, and wolves were in league with the devil, and people killed them on sight if at all possible. Far from being evil creatures, owls are valued by some cultures like indigenous Aboriginal Australians, who believe owls are the souls of women who have died, and are thus sacred.

Flying Owl Meaning

flying owl

Do owls fly at night or daytime to bring luck or messages to people? Some people believe they do. Seeing an owl flying symbolizes messages and wisdom. Most especially if the owl appears to you often, it’s telling you to listen to your intuition and gut, because you know the answers to life’s questions within you already. They may even be blessing you with some of their wisdom.

Seeing owls landing meaning when they land nearby you is a little more upfront and they are specifically delivering something directly to you. They can bring messages about the death of someone you know, or wisdom, but they can also be bringing the message you are about to undergo some changes in your life, and maybe even major transformation. Change terrifies a lot of people, so this is sometimes seen as owl bad luck being delivered, but the owls don’t create the change. They are the messengers alerting you to what is about to come to pass. It’s no owl bad omen, thankfully!

Great Horned Owl Symbolism

horned owl

The majestic great horned owl has some of the largest eyes proportionately than many other animals, and their amber gaze seems filled with all the magical wisdom in existence. Indeed, great horned owls symbolize secrets and the mysterious. This is partially because their feathers camouflage so well, it’s difficult to see them. They are believed to carry hidden sacred and metaphysical wisdom which they reveal when you see them. They are believed to help people to hide themselves, even becoming invisible! Zuni warriors believed this so strongly, carried their feathers to give them the ability to be unseen and unheard when they needed to be.

Screech Owl Symbolism

screech owl

Screech owls represent warning signs. They may be alerting you of danger, or impending disaster, but one thing is for sure, when you hear the call of a screech owl, it’s giving you notice to pay attention! Screech owls also represent love. They are a rare owl species because they are monogamous, and co-parent rather than the female doing it all on her own. Seeing or hearing two owls meaning when it’s screech owls is that you are about to enter into a wonderful romantic partnership or that your current mate is right for you!

White Owls Symbolism

white owl

What does a white owl mean? The Hindu goddess Lakshmi’s mount, or animal she rides, is a white barn owl. Both the owl and that goddess symbolize wealth, wisdom, prosperity, and good luck to her devotees. What an owl symbolizes can be good things in the form of these blessings or the presence of this goddess herself. White owls can be bringing these blessings to you or acting as the eyes of Lakshmi, watching over you and bringing good things.

Black Owl Symbolism

black owl

What does a black owl symbolize? If you see a black owl, it is telling you to delve deep into yourself, exploring hidden parts of who you are. What behaviors, habits, and tendencies do you have that you are least proud of and want to hide from people? Harness the power of those things and use them to your benefit is what a black owl is telling you to do. Our greatest weaknesses are often our greatest strengths, and by taking control of those things, you will become the best you can be.

Owl Symbolism and Death

death owl

Much is said about how owls supposedly announce or symbolize death. Seeing the back of an owl and it suddenly whips its head around without turning its body can be unsettling enough, but seeing it at night at a graveyard, and it’s penetrating gaze seemingly cutting through you is even creepier to some! Because owls are oftentimes seen taking down prey or eating prey, they symbolize death in many cultures. However, while death can be terrifying, the owl does not bring death, but can portend it. However, don’t worry, because the owl is just as likely to bring good luck and wisdom as messages that death is imminent.

Dead Owl Meaning

dead owl

If it’s the owl that is dead that you see, this omen is telling you that you will avoid a disaster. Ancient Romans put dead owls on their doorways to chase off bad luck and danger. We can’t recommend attaching a dead animal to your front door, however if the Romans are to be believed, the meaning of an owl at your house when it’s dead and attached to the doorway is a talisman or charm to ward off bad things and keep the home and inhabitants safe.

The Meaning of an Owl in Your House

owl in your house

Speaking of owls at your house, is an owl IN the home good or bad? An owl carries all blessings or messages it brings with it when it comes into your house. It’s bad luck, however, if you harm the owl. If it doesn’t leave on its own, call your local wildlife center to safely carry the bird back outdoors where it belongs. Because owls eat critters like rabbits and mice that can be pests to homes, an owl at home is used for protection in the form of a statue, much like a scarecrow. Owl statue meaning is of warding off small creatures who would destroy the home or bring germs and disease.

They can be purchased at your local hardware store or online at sites like this: Dalen Great Horned Owl Scarecrow Bird Prevent in the Animal & Rodent Control department at

Owl Eyes Tattoo Meaning

owl eyes tattoo

Because owls symbolize wisdom, they also symbolize seeking knowledge and education. The eyes of the owl are considered especially observant, and that they can see hidden truths. Owl tattoo meaning for guys, and ladies as well represent seeking that wisdom, and growing in intelligence. They can also represent owl spirit animals and can symbolize transition, or psychic abilities as well. They were seen as deliverers of souls to the afterlife in some cultures and can be symbolic of communication with the dead as a tattoo.

Owls and Divination

owls and divination

The wise owl who sees secret things can impart this sacred wisdom on seekers and brings that energy for readings in divination. The symbol of an owl can show up in owl tarot cards or the very shape of an owl. An owl in coffee cup reading, or the shape of an owl being in left over coffee grinds after finishing Turkish coffee can be alerting you to tap into your inner wisdom. White owl tarot cards and many other kinds of owl cards are in various decks. One such deck you can get a copy of is called the Fauna Inspiration Mini Deck, and this small deck is sized to travel with you wherever you go! Each of these 57 cards have beautiful artwork of a different animal and on the back side, the wisdom of the animal that is sending you a message is included.

You can buy your own copy here: MINI-DECK Fauna Inspiration 57 Cards Self-care Nature | Etsy

Is an Owl Good Luck or Bad Luck?

owl good luck or bad luck

Are owls bad luck? For their prey who can’t escape, they absolutely are! Are owls good luck? For those who are fortunate enough to call the wise, perceptive owl their spirit guides, they sure are! An owl in your house can be bad luck if you harm the bird, and it can be good luck if you allow it to bring whatever blessings it offers, and then allow it to leave freely. An owl flying away won’t take good things from you, but it can bring bad things in the form of fears if you believe an innocent animal is an embodiment of evil.

Like with any creature, an owl’s good luck gifts can be yours if you will openly accept them. The meaning of owl sightings are sometimes that you are fortunate enough to see the graceful bird, and other times, owls symbolize blessings, or warnings. What are owls a symbol of for you?

The Symbolic Meaning of OwlsAbout the Author: Saoirse has studied magic and lore for most of her life, but started walking her own Magical Path after being spiritually reborn in the desert. Today she shares her gifts as a Psychic and Content Writer for Mysticsense and she writes for Pagan Pages emag.

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