Owls in the early modern imagination: Ominous omens and pitiable sages

By Haylie Swenson

Owls were bad omens for Shakespeare and his contemporaries, but the prophecy and wisdom they symbolized also made them objects of satire.

Owls were bad omens for Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The general of the French forces, facing an English emissary in Henry VI, Part 1, calls him “Thou ominous and fearful owl of death, / Or nation’s terror and their bloody scourge!” (4.2.15) Similarly, when Richard III receives bad news on the battlefield, he reacts by shouting “Out on you, owls! Nothing but songs of death” and striking the messenger: “There, take thou that till thou bring better news” (4.4.536-537). When in King Henry VI, Part 3 the titular king wants to wound Richard, he says “The owl shrieked at thy birth, an evil sign” (5.6.36). Continue reading

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Beauty during pandemic: dueting Barred Owls

By Laura Sebastianelli

Despite rain (light to medium at times) a pair of of dueting Barred Owls was recorded for over an hour (4:20 – 5:25am) this morning at the edges of west Dyke Marsh and River Towers, Alexandria, VA. This clip features roughly 5 minutes that includes 3 sets of caterwauling — calls described well by Birds of North America Online as “a raucous jumble of cackles, hoots, caws and gurgles.

Laura Sebastinelli

Marantz PMD561, Sennheiser ME66
BAOW 032820 450am 1035 Short Final


A longtime friend of THE HOBBLEDEHOY, Laura Sebastianelli is a naturalist, ecological educator, sound recordist, citizen scientist, and active community member living near Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve
in Alexandria, VA.
Visit at: wildaroundus.wordpress.com/