Vonlaura erickson(aka "Professor McGonagowl")
(SPOILER discussion about Hedwig in Book 7 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - isHere.)
No spoilers beyond this point:
Now that five Harry Potter films and all seven books have been released, people have become very familiar with owls. This website gives you facts about owls in both the real world and J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World. I live in the United States but Harry Potter lives in England. Some owls live in both places, others only on one side of the pond. I've spent a lot of time studying owls, reading all seven Harry Potter books and watching the movies, but I just couldn't have written this and made it official without the help of so many people. If you have any information I should add, corrections or other comments, pleaseemail me.
In J.K. Rowling's Wonderful Universe, owls bridge the wizarding and muggle worlds, carrying messages, packages and even Nimbus 2000s with ease, making it clear to muggles that when a message needs to get through, it DOES. A snowy owl named Hedwig also provides warm company when a lonely wizard named Harry needs her.
If you have questions about owls, first see if you can find the answers here. if you can'tE-Mail an Professor McGonagowl. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or corrections, please let me know. For more information, see:
- Harry Potter Books Official Website (Canada)
- Harry Potter Books Official Website (USA)
- Conoce a J.K. Rowling
- Official Harry Potter Movies Website
- Interesting article about owls in the Harry Potter Lexicon
- Additional information about Owls of the World
- Additional information on North American owls
- Information on many animals of North America
- American Humane Association Review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Movie #5)(Thanks Kate!)
Hedwig, Harry's owl, is aSnow owl. She's a woman, but in the film, the actors who play her are men. (One of the owls playing Hedwig was also the first actor cast!!) You can tell that the owl playing Hedwig in the photo is actually a male because his plumage is so white; female snowy owls have dark markings. The females are also larger and heavier, so they would be a bit more difficult for the human performers to handle. Healthy males average about 4 pounds, females nearly 4 1/2 pounds. They have powerful claws. The photo does not show that Daniel Radcliffe is wearing a thick leather armguard. The claws, which can kill a large duck through thick feathers, can also be pretty tough on human arms, even if the owl is just trying to balance itself.
Seven different owls played the role of Hedwig. Their names are Gizmo, Kasper, Oops, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo, and Bandit. I discovered some interesting things inThe Pet Place page about Harry Potter.
Snowy owls live in the arctic tundra, in North America, Europe and Asia. A few breed in the north of the British Isles. Some misidentified cave paintings of Paleolithic peoples in Europe include owls on a cave wall at Ariège, France; In many sources (such as previous iterations of this site), including authoritative ones, the drawing is identified as a snowy owl, but this first owl depicted in art anywhere in the world is almost certainly a long-eared owl, as explained byBradshaw Foundation.
Snowy owls are predators and only eat animals, never plants. Their main prey species is the lemming, a fierce little rodent smaller than a chipmunk. Lemmings have huge population fluctuations from year to year. If there are a lot of lemmings, snowy owls can eat almost nothing else. They usually swallow any lemming whole, head first, but if they're not too hungry, they'll sometimes just bite the head or even eat parts in small pieces. But when lemming numbers are low, snowy owls eat many other things. Depending on where you live, you can eat lots of snowshoe hares, grebes and ducks (especially horned grebes), partridges, ground squirrels, rats, partridges and even fish. When a snowy owl's face is smeared with blood and gore, it will sometimes wipe its face with the snow. You can see more pictures of wild snowy owls on mineSnowy Owl Flickr-Fotostream. Global warming is expected to harm snowy owls across much of their range. Hedwig is lucky enough to live in a magical world!
The Weasley family has a very clumsy owl named Errol. In the movies it's aGreat gray owl. I don't think his species is actually mentioned in the books, but my friend Katty from Belgium found out that it's in J.K. Rowling's website. Measured from head to tail, the great gray owl is the largest owl in the world. But despite being about an inch taller than snowy owls and looking just as tall, they weigh a lot less than snowy owls, sometimes less than half! Also, their wingspan isn't as long as that of snowy owls, probably because their wings don't support as much weight. Great Gray Owl specializes in mice and voles and has very slender toes compared to other giant owls.
In North America, feral great gray owls live in Alaska and much of Canada as far north as Minnesota and in the mountainous areas of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. In Europe and Asia, they are found in northern Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, northern Mongolia, northern Manchuria, Amurland and Sakhalin. They only come to Britain in the magical world of Harry Potter.
Great Gray Owl cannot carry very heavy objects as she is very light herself (usually less than 3 pounds!) and her feet are quite weak. When I was caring for injured birds, I once had to rescue a great gray owl, which I later turned over to a bird of prey specialist. I've had him for a while and was amazed at how harmless his paws were. I usually deal with songbirds so I didn't have the thick gloves normally used for working with raptors, but this owl's claws didn't hurt my hands at all. Typically, more than 90% of a great gray owl's diet consists of one species: prairie voles. When eating larger prey, such as rabbits and squirrels, they must sit on the animal for many hours, biting into small pieces of meat.
I hold this wild but injured great gray owl in my bare hands. Not tame, he was successfully rehabilitated at the Raptor Center, but the Great Gray Owl's claws are not very strong compared to other owls.
The Weasleys' great gray owl, Errol, is very clumsy. Owls just can't fall like Errol in the movie. Not even the owl actor who plays Errol could crash like that; Like other birds, owls have hollow bones and are too fragile to bang against tables and windows. In the film, they filmed a great gray owl gracefully flying through Errol's scenes. Then they replaced the shocks with a dummy owl.
Notice how thin the branch is that supports the weight of this great gray owl.
Great gray owl is one of the most impressive of all owls.
You can see many pictures of wild great gray owl on mineBartkauz Flickr Photo Stream.
Pigwidgeon is so tiny that some people have suggested to me that it might be onelittle Owl, a very small owl found in England. The scientific name of this owl isAthens is night, and is widespread throughout much of its range in southern and central Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Little owls are not native to England but were introduced there in the late 19th century. Little owls are not found naturally anywhere in North America, but belong to the same genus and are closely related to the burrowing owl. Like the burrowing owl, the little owl is found in open habitats and is often diurnal and nocturnal. The Little Owl often perches on posts and other vantage points. Like most little owls, the little owl eats many insects that it can catch in flight.
The little owl has an interesting mythology of its own as it is the sacred owl of the goddess Athena, hence its scientific name. And it is depicted on coins from ancient Athens.
Even smaller than an owl and most closely related to the owls of the Americas, this owl has "ear tufts," feathers that stick out from the head to resemble ears. The owl illustration for this chapter clearly shows these tufts of feathers.
We were hoping the filmmakers would use a scops owl when Pigwidgeon finally showed up, but he wasn't in the film, which was a huge disappointment to me and many others!
How would Pigwedgeon sound like? you can hearShots of different owl species here.
Ron seemed to resent having such a small animal compared to Harry's Hedwig. But we bet he didn't have to work as hard to clean up Pigwidgeon as Harry did for Hedwig! Owl poo stinks and is dirty. (Unless they're magical owls, we note that Harry's black cloak never has a single patch of white!)
Malfoy's owl is the largest and heaviest owl in Europe, an eagle owl. Eagle owls are not found in the United States, they live in Europe and Asia. Eagle owls are not native to the UK, but a few pairs have escaped from captivity. Scientists hope they don't become established in the wild in England because, like all introduced animals, they will almost certainly upset the balance of nature that already exists there. But in their native range, these magnificent birds are an important part of that balance. Eagle owls have more orange eyes than great horned owls, are slightly larger, and have thick vertical front stripes rather than the finer horizontal stripes of great horned owls. Notice again how it points forward with its two normal front toes. (The "thumb" toe and back toe point backwards.)
I didn't pay enough attention to another owl: Percy's! Luckily my friend Katty writes:
An owl is mentioned in the Harry Potter Owl Lexicon. And in Chapter 5 of Prisoner of Azkaban you will find: "...Percy's owl,..." (when Rowling was describing how the Weasleys, Hermione and Harry came out of the Leaky Cauldron.)
Considering my own owl, Archimedes, is a screech owl, I really should have found this on my own!
There are a lot of owls here and there in the Harry Potter films.
The owl, featured on many of the film's posters, screensavers and other promotional material,Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, is a great horned owl.
“Poster for the first Harry Potter film. Great horned owls are not found naturally in England."
This owl lives in North, Central and South America but is not found in the wild in England or anywhere else this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I don't know if this promotional material was used in England, but it makes a lot of sense that an American owl would be giving out invitations to the film to people in Canada and the US. Note that the owl has two front claws on each forward-facing foot. Owls have three front toes and one back toe on each foot. But one of the front claws is opposable and rotates backwards like we use the thumb. So the way this owl carries the letter to Harry is exactly how a real owl would carry the mail. Please note that owls prefer airmail.
Eagle owls would not feel comfortable around other owls. This scene was shot using special shooting techniques.
In real life, large species of owls sometimes eat smaller species. Eagle Owls are very stressed around other owls. But filming the scene shown above didn't stress the owls. Because? This scene was filmed over and over again, each time with different owls, and then the films were digitally manipulated to make it appear as if all the owls were there at the same time.
The first Harry Potter film frequently used owls to establish the wizarding world.
Notes on the fourth film: My friend Katty from Belgium, who is blind and picks up a lot of sounds that I don't pay enough attention to, writes:
I watched the fourth movie yesterday and was lucky enough to hear different sounds of owls. In this film, we entered the Owlery (it's not a round stone room as described in the books, but it appeared to be outside of the school). I do not know. I don't know if you can see many species of owls in this scene, but I've heard the sounds from:(Video) DBC Meeting: Greene Valley Hawkwatch + Raptor ID with Vicky Sroczynski and Bob Fisher
- little Owl
- barn owl (maybe)
- Royal owl
- Snow owl
- ???other species I didn't recognize. They seemed very active, but I don't know if it's day or night in the film.
During the movie you can hear other species of owls but I don't know if you can see them. I heard:
- Little Owl (in the cemetery
The only species (and owl character) I haven't seen or heard of was Pigwidgeon.
Could a real owl drive a Nimbus 2000?
Hedwig has a present for Harry! Is there really a broom in that bag?
Snowy owls often kill snowshoe hares and may carry them to their chicks. A snowshoe hare weighs more than 1 kilogram. I weighed a corn broom about 1 pound, so the weight of a real broom wouldn't be a problem for a snowy owl. And a snowy owl's claws can easily grab a broomstick. So yes, a real snowy owl could actually wear a Nimbus 2000. But the snowy owl in that scene just flew, and then the filmmakers added the broom digitally. This wasn't too difficult. In the arctic tundra, where there are no trees for snowy owls to crash into in flight, they often dangle their legs in flight. So in this scene, the owl's feet are already in position to carry something.
Little owls can easily carry mice, so letters and birthday greetings would be quite easy for them to handle. But accThe place of pets:
Although throughout the movie it seems like the owls are carrying messages and even the broomstick, they weren't actually holding the objects. Instead, they were tied to the birds with an invisible harness. When they got to the right spot, a trainer pulled a string that triggered the message or object.
Also note that the broom shown in the film was actually made out of paper.
Can eagle owls be happy in cages?
The cage Harry usually keeps Hedwig in is too small for a real owl, and the tiny Victorian cage used in the film would be illegal to keep an owl in the US or UK. The UK requires all bird cages to be large enough for the bird to fully extend its wings without touching anything. Keeping it in anything smaller requires a veterinary certificate. But the owl playing Hedwig is probably used to a fairly small cage when it's out and about, just as a dog or cat is used to a small pet carrier or kennel, as long as they don't have to stay in it too long or too often. .
"Hedwig in a Cage"
Are eagle owls active at all during the day?
Of course, owls living in the Arctic, the “land of the midnight sun,” need to be able to hunt in bright light. Snowy owls can hunt day or night. And some other owls are very diurnal: the pygmy owl and the more tropical pygmy owl are active during the day.
Northern Pygmy Owl, active at noon.
Many owls are crepuscular, most active at dusk. And some are ONLY nocturnal: the Little Owl and Tengmalm Owl are good examples.
Tengmalm's Owl, a very nocturnal species
My own little owl, Archimedes, reminds me of a cat. He is active when he feels like it and sleeps when he feels like it, day or night.
Archimedes eats day or night)
In the wild, screech owls roost and nest in tree cavities or nest boxes and are very susceptible to jays, robins and ravens during the day, but they need some sun to produce vitamin D, so they spend much of the day with their heads popping out of the sun hole. If a moody robin or jay spots one, the little owl simply retreats to the burrow.
Can humans really keep owls as pets?
In the magical world of Harry Potter, a wizard or witch can have a real owl. In the real world, in England, people are allowed to keep owls as long as it can be shown that the bird was bred in captivity or that it is disabled and cannot be returned to the wild to display owls for money or to keep them for wildlife breed sale. People in the UK must have what is known as a “Section 10 certificate” which works like a license for the bird.
In the US, it is always illegal to keep barn owls as pets. In the US, owls and all other native birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and may not be owned by anyone without a legal permit for research or education, or in the case of an injured owl without a legal rehabilitation permit. I have permission to keep an Eastern circle owl for training purposes. He first had to prove that he had a good reason to use an owl for educational programs and that it could provide healthy, safe, comfortable housing and good food in order to apply for a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. I needed a permit from my state to apply for a federal permit with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. After getting both permits, I was allowed to keep an owl but not take it from the wild. I needed to find a rehabilitation center that had an owl that had recovered but could not be released into the wild. I've had Archimedes since the year 2000.
I need state and federal permits to keep Archimedeans as my school bird.
How can I see an eagle owl and live in the wild?
Owls are secretive during the day because they are often attacked by ravens, jays, robins and other birds. If you're walking through the woods or in a park and hear something that sounds like exceptionally angry tits or a large number of extremely loud crows, give it a try! You can track an owl. At night you can hear the owls, especially in late winter and spring. To hear how some owls sound, you can take a lookJourney North Owl Dictionary.
Find out if there is an Audubon Society or other bird club in your city. Most bird clubs offer tours and have experts to help you see all the birds. And they might have some special trips just to find owls!
How can I help the owls?
There are several things we can do to help owls.
Buy your Harry Potter books atEditorial canadiense, Raincoast.This company prints all Harry Potter books on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. This helps many species of owls as much of the owls' habitat is cleared to make paper.
Don't waste paper.Recycle the paper when you're done using it and buy recycled paper. How does this help owls? On average, Americans use 738 pounds of paper per person per year. And much of that paper is wasted: More than 40% of the garbage Americans throw away is paper. That adds up to a lot of trees! And when forests are cut down to make paper, birds that need older forest growth are harmed. One way to save paper is to stop receiving spam. Four million tons of spam are sent through the US Postal Service, and half of that never gets opened. This is an enormous waste of forest.This websitecontains information about simple things you can do to reduce spam.
Keep your cat indoors.Domestic cats kill millions of birds every year. On rare occasions, a great horned owl will kill a cat, but since even the heaviest owl only weighs 4 to 5 pounds, owls are at a serious disadvantage when fighting a cat. Even if an owl survives an attack, a cat bite or scratch can introduce bacteria that cause deadly infections. Avian lungs are located on their backs, making them particularly vulnerable to stab wounds. Also, cats kill a lot of mice. Except in highly urban areas where rats and mice are a problem for humans, domestic cats destroy a large amount of valuable food for barn owls, making it difficult for barn owls, especially the smaller species, to survive. For more information on the importance of keeping your cat indoors, visitAmerican Bird Conservancy Indoor-Katzencampaign page
Don't let your dog chase birds.When an owl kills large prey, it will sometimes spend several minutes feeding on the ground. During this time, a dog can easily kill you or seriously injure you. We know of at least one screech owl that was grabbed by a dog and the screech wing snapped off. If people hadn't noticed, he would have died, but now he's in a rehab center.
Leave dead trees standing.If absolutely necessary, prune them in late fall or early winter to ensure there are no babies in the nest.
Set up a wooden duck/screech owl box or barred owl nesting platform.However, building both types close to each other is not a good idea!
Support an owl rehabilitation center near you.not MinnesotaThe Raptor CenterHe does a great job caring for injured and orphaned raptors.This pagelists many other rehab facilities. If you know a place that is not on the list, pleaseemail me.
Join an organization dedicated to protecting owls.My favorite American organization that does research and education to help all birds is theAmerican Bird Protection. IsRainforest AllianceIt protects tropical birds including the many owls that live there. HeRoyal Society for the Protection of Birdsprotects the birds of the world with a particular focus on Britain.
Don't even think about having an owl as a pet.Owls are protected by law, making it illegal to keep them in captivity in the United States without a license. But at least as important, owls are wild and natural birds that require a wild and natural life. In cages, they just can't do everything their bodies were designed to do and everything their minds demanded. In addition, owls are not easy to care for: they must eat rodents or other animals whole, which must be fresh, and their droppings are dirty and smelly and require frequent cleaning. If you yearn to interact with live eagle owls, volunteer to help at a nature center or rehabilitation center.
When you buy owl stuff, buy it from Owl Stuff.product ofOwl Stuff-WebsiteGo to conservation organizations.
Of course, owls have been associated with magic for a long time, and feature in many old illustrations of witches and wizards, second only to cats as Most Magical Creature. The owl's association with wisdom was established in Roman times, for it is the emblem of Minerva, goddess of wisdom.Are the owls in Harry Potter CGI? ›
Actually, most of the owls used in this scene were either computer generated or fake stuffies–only a handful were real. Each owl was secured with a safety line gently attached to its ankle, and each had its own trainer to ensure that it was comfortable and safe at all times.Is Hedwig a real owl or CGI? ›
Many of the animals you see in films are computer-generated. However, while special effects were used in some owl moments in the Potter films, Harry's friend Hedwig was played by a number of real snowy owls. We even know these performers' names: Gizmo, Kasper, Oops, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo and Bandit.What happened to Harry Potters owl? ›
In the book, Hedwig was killed as she sat in her cage by Harry's side – as she had so many times before – as they attempted to escape on the back of Hagrid's motorcycle. In the film, the scene was made even more heartbreaking, as Hedwig was killed while attempting to protect Harry from Death Eaters.What gender is the owl in Harry Potter? ›
Harry's owl Hedwig is a two-foot tall Snowy Owl. (Portrayed as a female, it's actually a male - you can tell because it's pure white.) Ron Weasley, Harry's friend, also has an owl, named Pigwidgeon, a Scops Owl.What do the birds mean in Harry Potter? ›
Sure, the bird is primarily a demonstration of how Draco can send/receive stuff from a very not-nice-person. Draco sends the live bird somewhere through the cabinet, and it comes back dead. The meaning, as we've discussed elsewhere, is pretty clear: the cabinet can bring evil into Hogwarts. Shudder.How many real owls were used in Harry Potter? ›
Seven different owls played the role of Hedwig. Their names are Gizmo, Kasper, Oops, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo and Bandit. I found out some interesting things on The Pet Place site about Harry Potter. Real Snowy Owls live in the arctic tundra, in North America, Europe, and Asia.How did they make the cats eyes red in Harry Potter? ›
To achieve the disheveled and unkempt appearance of Mrs. Norris, the felines wore a collar with matted, fake fur attached to it and also had their own beautiful coat spiked up with a non-toxic hair gel. Her menacing red eyes were a digital effect; no contact lenses were used on the cats during filming.What is Hermione's owl called? ›
Crookshanks was purchased on 31 August 1993 by Hermione Granger from the Magical Menagerie, who had originally gone there seeking an owl. The proprietor informed Hermione that he had been there for quite some time, and that "nobody wanted him".Why did Hedwig sacrifice herself? ›
J.K. Rowling has stated before that she killed off Hedwig because her death was meant to represent the loss of innocence as Harry grew up and into adulthood (and stared down some Death Eaters). Her death happens during the Battle of Seven Potters in Deathly Hallows as the group is leaving Privet Drive.
While some thought she died saving Potter from a death curse, she actually faked her demise with help from Professor Severus Snape. Hedwig poses for a rare photo in Japan.How many owls did they use for Hedwig? ›
Hedwig, the snowy owl from the Harry Potter movies, was actually played by seven different birds over the course of the franchise. According to ScreenRant, the main Hedwig was named Gizmo, and his main stunt owls were called Ook and Sprout.Who kills Hedwig? ›
She was struck down by a killing curse when Harry and his friends — who were all disguised as Harrys thanks to the polyjuice potion — tried to leave Privet Drive at night, only to be tailed by a group of masked Death Eaters.Who replaced Hedwig? ›
Who replaced Hedwig? In the films, Hedwig is played by Gizmo, and his main stunt replacements, Ook and Sprout. Further owls were Kasper, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo and Bandit. Since the owls who played Hedwig were almost all male, her appearance in the movies is that of a male snowy owl, not a female one.What was missing from the Harry Potter movies? ›
- 1 Charlie Weasley.
- 2 Ludo Bagman. ...
- 3 Neville's Parents. ...
- 4 Peeves. ...
- 5 The Gaunts. ...
- 6 Winky the House-elf. ...
- 7 Phineas Nigellus Black. ...
Pigwidgeon, or Pig, a Scops owl, was a gift from Sirius Black to Ron. Ron's sister, Ginny, named the owl.Why is her name Hedwig? ›
|Word/name||Old High German|
|Region of origin||Germany, Austria|
He's a wise owl of 16 now so he's quite an old hat in the trade.Why was Malfoy bleeding in the bathroom? ›
Malfoy spots Harry and casts a Cruciatus curse; Harry, defending himself, using the Half-Blood Prince's Sectumsempra spell without knowing its effects. To his horror, it gashes Draco's face and chest, spilling his blood everywhere. Moaning Myrtle flies off, screaming.What are the three symbols in Harry Potter? ›
The Deathly Hallows symbol – a vertical line and circle enclosed by a triangle – represents three legendary Harry Potter artifacts: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility.
Pigwidgeon is a Eurasian Scops Owl. In the Harry Potter books, Pigwidgeon is gifted to Ron Weasley from Sirius Black partly as an apology for taking away Ron's beloved pet rat. Pigwidgeon is a tiny hyperactive owl that Ron is both proud of and annoyed by.Is Aunt Petunia a squib? ›
The fan asked the author if Aunt Petunia was a Squib (a non-magical person who is born to at least one magical parent) and Rowling replied: "Good question. No, she is not, she is not a Squib. She is a Muggle.Were any animals harmed in the making of Harry Potter? ›
Inspectors reviewed the script and action scenes before and during filming to ensure that animals were not harmed or mistreated and that AHA Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media were upheld.Who is the most famous owl? ›
Owls have had starring roles in many titles but Hedwig, Harry Potter's personal owl in JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (and sequels) is currently the most famous.What does the owl beast represent? ›
The Owl Beast is the mysterious entity that serves as the avatar of its own curse. It inhabits those afflicted with its curse, often appearing to its victims within their subconsciousness when the curse is in effect.What is the true meaning of the owl tattoo? ›
An owl tattoo can symbolize many things, including wisdom, mystery, and magic. In Native American cultures, owls are often associated with the afterlife and are considered spiritual guides.What is the white owl in Harry Potter? ›
Hedwig (d. 27 July 1997) was Harry Potter's pet snowy owl. Hedwig was an eleventh birthday gift from Rubeus Hagrid to Harry.