This nocturnal hunting bird is a strong and silent flier with acute hearing and vision, and a haunting call. As in many other cultures, Northwest Coast people believe that the Owl has great powers of wisdom, foreknowledge and perception. These birds are known for their wisdom as they are quiet and calculating rather than vocal and impulsive (Dawkins).
Owls are powerful spirits that are believed to be connected to death. Their presence often signifies the approach of death. For many Kwakwaka’wakw people, the Owl embodies darkness and ancestor spirits (Shearar). Some believe that a dying person will even hear an Owl call his or her name before their death. Similarly, in Tsimshian traditions, an Owl flying overhead can foretell, or even cause, the death of those below (Shearar).
Artistic Characteristics of the Owl
In artwork, Owls can be identified by their large, round eyes; a very short, hooked beak which comes to a V; and pointed ears, which may be prominent to emphasize acute hearing (Shearar). It is common for Owl to be paired with Moon in jewellery design (Dawkins).
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