What Does It Mean When You See An Owl In Daytime? Owl Symbolism & Meanings

By David NaarLast Updated Apr 23, 2021 8:28:22 PM ET
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Did you know that there are around 250 owl species in this world? While most of them prefer to be active at night, and typically nest in places that humans don’t visit, some owls tend to appear during the day and in less remote places. Regardless if they’re nocturnal or not, owls also hold plenty of symbolism. However, a daytime viewing can have a much deeper meaning. Here, we’ll break down everything you need to know about owls, their spiritual meaning, and what it means when you hear or see one of these charming creatures.

What Do Owls Symbolize?

Due to its perceived cleverness, an owl is known to represent wisdom and intelligence — even though they may not actually be as smart as we’d like to think. So, why do we associate them with wisdom?

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Many cultures and Indigenous peoples native to North America link owls to both wisdom and death. Some tribes believe the bird is capable of noting various weather patterns in addition to being a knowledgeable guide in the afterlife. For some tribes, an owl’s hoot is seen as a bad omen.

Moreover, the ancient Greeks associated owls with Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle acumen. As is the case with the ancient Greek interpretation, Celtic peoples also associated owls with warriors and battle. In fact, Celtic tradition posits that the owl warrior holds knowledge of the underworld, in part due its nocturnal nature. In addition to its links to wisdom and warriors, the owl is also a Celtic fertility symbol.

What Does It Mean When You See an Owl?

Seeing an owl during the daytime is rare, but not unheard of. If you see an owl during twilight, you’re most likely seeing the pygmy owl, although there are some other species, including the little owl and the short-eared owl, that are also notably active during the waning daylight hours.

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Historically, cultures had different definitions of what it means to see an owl. For example, if an ancient Greek or a Roman saw an owl, it was believed they’d be granted wisdom and, in some cases, a prophecy. In contrast, Christians would have associated an owl sighting with satanism, due to the bird’s largely nocturnal lifestyle.

What Does It Mean When You Hear an Owl?

So, seeing an owl is one thing, but hearing it is another. An owl can hoot for a variety of reasons: it can be a way to claim its territory, alert others that a predator is near, or attract a mate. Studies have even suggested that each owl can have a different hooting pattern that sets them apart from the rest.

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Hearing a hoot can be frightening to humans as well as animals — even dogs can get unsettled when they hear an owl call out. In fact, the Romans believed the hoot symbolized an approaching death. While there’s of course no evidence to back this superstition, there is something unnerving about an owl acting strangely, even if its hoot is simply a form of communication.

Owl Spiritual Meaning Example Pieces

For some groups Indigenous to North America, an owl is regarded as a symbol for people who are born between November 23 and December 21. However, the owl’s meaning varies greatly from tribe to tribe. For example, the Pawnee people see it as a symbol of protection while the Ojibwa people see it as an omen that brings death. Pueblo tradition holds that a deity called the Skeleton Man, also known as Maasaw, was associated with owls. In addition to being a god of death, Maasaw was also linked to fertility.

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As mentioned above, for the ancient Greeks the owl was a symbol of the goddess of wisdom, Athena. According to legends, Athena was extremely impressed with the owl and immediately claimed it as her emblem. It became her symbol and, in turn, was associated with higher wisdom and prophecy. Moreover, due to Athena’s ties to battle strategy, the owl was thought to protect the Greek army; if soldiers saw an owl before heading into the battle, they were assured of their soon-to-be triumph. For example, Aristophanes claimed that Athena sent an owl to the battlefield when Athenians were fighting the Persians, thus securing their victory.

It’s important to remember that symbolism is what we make of it. In order to truly understand what seeing an owl during the daytime could mean, you have to apply the experience to your own personal life. So, pay attention to the messages owls are trying to deliver — they may not always be what they seem.