Continuing with the mystic charm around the owls, let’s take a peek at the importance of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Hindu civilizations attributed to this bird.
Inscriptions on Pyramids, cave drawings, Greek mythology right up to the latest Harry Potter novels, Owls have had a mesmerizing effect on people. Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, had an owl as her special friend. The Greek armies often had owl images decorating their shields, for they believed that owls signify triumph. Owls have also had negative connotations in history. Legend has it that the continuous hoot of an owl, the night before Brutus cunningly killed him, preempted the death of Julius Caesar.
Owls are a mixed bag in Hindu mythology. While up North, they are often associated with goddess Lakshmi and a symbol of luck and prosperity, owls are often considered a bad omen in some of the Southern parts of the country.
The large piercing eyes, the portly rounded head and its silent flight at night possibly makes this one of the most enigmatic birds ever in history, and the mysticism around it continues even today. But how do owls fly silently in the first place?
The main reason owls can fly silently is the uniquely designed leading edges of their primary feathers. When most birds fly, turbulence — created when air gushes over the surface of their wings — causes noise. Owls’ wings, however, are unique because they reduce noise caused by turbulence. An owl’s primary feathers are serrated like a comb. This design breaks down turbulence into smaller currents called micro-turbulences. Then the edge of the feather muffles the sound of air flowing over the wing and shifts the angle at which air flows. These soft feathers allow air to pass through, which eliminates sound.
Such stealth flight capabilities, combined with a razor sharp night vision makes the owl a formidable nocturnal bird of prey, swooping down on helpless prey that simply do not have a chance, for the silent stalker can hardly be heard until it is just a few feet away, and the fierce talons strike with precision. Simply science-defying features, which continue to baffle the scientific world.