Owl Quotes (63 sayings about wise birds) 

Owl Quotes (63 sayings about wise birds)

Owl quotes may remind us of wisdom, silence, the dark of night. Or maybe witches and wizards (like Harry Potter), death and ill omen (from ancient times and medieval literature), or even humor. 

We’ve collected every type of owl quote here for you to enjoy and consider.

Famous Owl Quotes

What? There are famous owl quotes? You may have heard a few of these.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat

Owl Quotes

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar

Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat

Is there a more famous owl quote than The Owl and the Pussycat? This iconic nonsense poem was first published in 1870. If you’ve ever heard the phrase runcible spoon, author Edward Lear created it for this poem.

Lonely Owls

Owls are known as lonely birds; but it’s not known that they have the forest as their best friend

Mehmet Murmat Ildan

Turkish playwright and novelist Mehmet Murmat Ildan also has many famous quotes.

The Owl’s Eyes

Have you ever

Stared into the owl’s eyes? They blink slow, then burn:

Burn gold in the dark inner core of the snow-shrouded cedar.

Robert Penn Warren, Or Else–Poem/Poems 1968-1971

Pulitzer prize winning writer Robert Penn Warren is most famous for his novel All the King’s Men. He’s also the only person to win the Pulitzer prize for both fiction and poetry.

Sad nights

Do not trap yourself into an owl’s hooting sound

where sad nights linger through the blackness of a hound

Munia Khan

The Owl, Tennyson

When cats run home and light is come,

And dew is cold upon the ground,

And the far-off stream is dumb,

And the whirring sail goes round,

And the whirring sail goes round;

Alone and warming his five wits,

The white owl in the belfry sits.

Alfred Tennyson, Song, The Owl.

Did you know Lord Alfred Tennyson is one of the most quoted writers from The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations? 

He authored phrases that have become common, like Nature, red in tooth and claw,” and “‘Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all.”

The Gloom Bird

Omens drear

Fright and perplex, so also shuddered he—

Not at dog’s howl, or gloom-bird’s hated screech,

John Keats’ Hyperion

This verse comes from John Keats’ unfinished epic poem, Hyperion. The gloom-bird refers to the owl, whose cry was considered an ill omen in the 1800s.

The Owl of Minerva

The owl of Minerva takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering.

— G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right (1820), “Preface”; translated by S W Dyde, 1896

Germanic philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel influenced many modern philosophical topics.

Here, he writes about the owl of Minerva, or the owl of Athena, which represents this goddess of wisdom. This association led to the owl as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

Owl Wisdom Quotes

Owls are regarded as a source of wisdom and intelligence from their association with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. It’s no surprise that these magnificent birds of prey feature prominently in owl wisdom quotes.

What does he see?

The owl,” he was saying, “is one of the most curious creatures. A bird that stays awake when the rest of the world sleeps. They can see in the dark. I find that so interesting, to be mired in reality when the rest of the world is dreaming. What does he see and what does he know that the rest of the world is missing?

M.J. Rose, Seduction

MJ Rose’s suspense novel Seduction is a tale of mythology and reincarnation. Here, a character discusses the intrigue of arwen owl’s observations.

Solemn Writers

A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.

Ernest Hemingway

Maybe this owl quote belongs in the list of famous owl quotes above, or humorous ones below. No matter how you categorize it, Hemingway is known as a writer who prunes as many words as possible, leaving his text as an iceberg, with most of the meaning below the surface.

Previous lives

In their previous lives, poets were bats, and thinkers were owls.

Michael Bassey Johnson, Song of a Nature Lover

Our most enchanting bird

To be honest, owls aren’t the brightest of birds, amazing as they are; parrots and crows are much smarter. It’s all in the eyes: those magnificent piercing optics are what make all owls look like they are deep in concentrated scrutiny and steeped in long-lost knowledge.

The more he heard

A wise old owl sat on an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can’t we all be like that bird?


Owls make poor heroes

Owls are wise. They are careful and patient. Wisdom precludes boldness. That is why owls make poor heroes

Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

I love this unique but accurate quote about owls!


There is always a hidden “owl” in “knowledge.”

E.I. Jane

Simple but true!

Bambi’s Children

Everything you say,’ Geno said rather irritably, ‘contradicts itself.’

‘Of course it does,’ the screech owl rejoined obscurely. ‘Otherwise, how would anyone ever keep to the middle of the road?

Felix Salten, Bambi’s Children

First of all, did you know the Disney movie Bambi is based on a book called Bambi, a Life in the Woods?

If you knew that, did you know there’s a sequel called Bambi’s Children: The Story of a Forest Family? This 1939 book by Austrian author Felix Salten tells the story of Bambi and Faline’s twin fawns, Gino and Gurri, and their coming of age. Gino and Gurri were actually modeled after Salten’s own children. And as in Bambi, the wise owl of the forest has much to say!

RELATED: Owl Names from Mythology

Owl Quotes from Winnie the Pooh

The talkative Owl is regarded as (and regards himself as) the most intelligent creature in the Hundred Acre Wood. Of course, you’ll find lots of Owl’s “wisdom” in his quotes below.

Did you know that Winnie the Pooh is now in the public domain, and you can read it online for free? Check out the Project Gutenberg version here.

Owl knows something

Owl Quotes

And if anyone knows anything about anything,” said Bear to himself, “it’s Owl who knows something about something.

Winnie the Pooh
AA Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Owl’s Anecdote

Owl Quotes

Owl was telling Kanga an Interesting Anecdote full of long words like Encyclopædia and Rhododendron to which Kanga wasn’t listening

AA Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Important Things

Owl was explaining that in a case of Sudden and Temporary Immersion the Important Thing was to keep the Head Above Water

AA Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Owl Knows Things

Owl Quotes

Owl hasn’t exactly got Brain, but he Knows Things. He would know the Right Thing to Do

Piglet, AA Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Owl and Christopher Robin talk about rain

The atmospheric conditions have been very unfavourable lately,” said Owl.

“The what?”

“It has been raining,” explained Owl.

“Yes,” said Christopher Robin. “It has.”

“The flood-level has reached an unprecedented height.”

“The who?”

“There’s a lot of water about,” explained Owl.

Owl and Chrisopher Robin, AA Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Something very wise

Owl tried to think of something very wise to say, but couldn’t.

AA Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Short Owl Quotes

Sometimes you just need a short owl quote full of wisdom! Here you go, from famous to rare.


Owl Quotes

The wailing owl

The wailing owl

Screams solitary to the mournful moon.

David Mallett, Excursion.

David Mallett’s Excursion, published in 1728, is a little-known but beautiful poem. You can also read it online here.

Virtuous owl

O you virtuous owle,

The wise Minerva’s only fowle.

Sir Philip Sidney, A Remedy for Love

Similarly, Sidney’s Elizabethan era work, A Remedy for Love is available online here.

Fashionable owls

Then lady Cynthia, mistress of the shade,

Goes, with the fashionable owls, to bed.

Edward Young, Love of Fame, Satire V, line 209.

Edward Young’s famous Love of Fame was originally published in 1725! You can read the full poem here.

RELATED: Quotes About Red- Tailed Hawks

Funny owl quotes

Be an owl

Being human is hard. So be an owl.


Counting Owls

Owl Quotes

Don’t count your owls before they are delivered.

JK Rowling


It was a lot like working at Hogwarts, except that, instead of receiving letters from our owls, we would find coughed-up owl pellets in our coffee mugs.

Stacey O’Brien, Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl

Stacey O’Brien’s book Wesley the Owl is a remarkable story of a scientist who adopts an injured baby barn owl. Filled with many fascinating quotes, the reader will also learn quite a bit about “wild pets” and every aspect of an owl’s life.

Who or why?

Interdimensional travel is full of dangers that can be difficult to predict, but there are signs to watch out for. Owls are especially helpful for savvy explorers. In our own universe, they ask, “Who?” You can tell a parallel world is perilous when you hear an owl ask, “Why?

T.R. Darling, Quiet Pine Trees

The book Quiet Pine Trees is a delightful collection of short stories, including time travel and eerie horror stories spanning many genres

The Office

I am both a night owl and an early bird. So I am wise and I have worms.

Michael Scott, The Office

Do we need to say anything more about Mr Scott?


The inauspiciousness of the owl is nothing but the inauspiciousness of the man who thinks that owl is inauspicious!

Mehmet Murat Ildan

Here we have another quote from Mehmet Murat Ildan, the playwright from Turkey.

Easy come, easy go

Perhaps he does not want to be friends with you until he knows what you are like. With owls, it is never easy-come-easy-go.

T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone

T.H. White 1938 novel The Sword in the Stone retells the tale of King Arthur’s boyhood and how he pulled the sword from the stone. It’s actually the foundation for Disney’s movie, The Sword in the Stone. And White later expanded on the book, building it into The Once and Future King.

Cute Owl Quotes

These cute owl quotes are perfect for captions, Instagram, and more!

Owl Quotes

An owl is mostly air.

-Ursula K. Le Guin, Out Here: Poems and Images from Steens Mountain Country

It’s wise to think about whooo you are


I’ll owl-wys love you!

Owl you need is love!

It’s owl good!

Owl be waiting!

Owl be back!

It’s owl or nothing!

Owl quotes for Instagram

Owl Quotes

And here are more Instagram- worthy owl quotes!

A merry note

Then nightly sings the staring owl,


Tu-who, a merry note

William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act V, Scene 2

The stern’st goodnight

It was the owl that shriek’d, the fatal bellman,

Which gives the stern’st good night.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1605), Act II, Scene 2, Line 3.

The clamorous owl

The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots and wonders

At our quaint spirits.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene 2, Line 6.

Companion to owls

I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.

Job 30: 29

Owl Quotes from Shakespeare

Owl Quotes

Shakespeare frequently used owls as a symbol of evil, pending misfortune, ill omen, or death. He intentionally used owl references from ancient Greek and Latin that those watching his plays would know. Here are just a handful of the many owl- related quotes from Shakespeare.

The clamorous owl

The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots and wonders

At our quaint spirits.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch that will draw three souls out of one weaver?

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Night’s Herald

The owl, night’s herald, shrieks “tis very late!”

The sheep are gone to fold, birds to their nest,

And coal-black clouds that shadow heaven’s light

Do summon us to part and bid goodnight.

William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

The sternest good night

Hark! Peace!

It was the owl that shrieked, the fatal bellman,

Which gives the sternest good night.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Lady Macbeth hears an owl shriek when Duncan is murdered. In Shakespeare’s time, owls were viewed as harbingers of death.

The poor wren

The poor wren, 

The most diminutive of birds, will fight,

Her young ones in the nest, against the owl.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Later in Macbeth, Lady Macbeth compares herself to a wren

Comrade with the owl

No, rather I abjure all roofs, and choose

To wage against the enmity o’ the air, 

To be a comrade with the wolf and owl – 

Necessity’s sharp pinch!

William Shakespeare, King Lear

King Lear avoids his daughters, telling readers that he’d rather be outside than with them.

Henry IV part III (v.6), King Henry mentions how such a sign appeared when Gloucester was born. And of course Gloucester grew up to become the clearly cursed Richard III.

An evil sign

The owl shriek’d at thy birth, an evil sign.

William Shakespeare, Henry IV Part III

King Henry describes an owl shrieking when Gloucester was born. Later, Gloucester becomes the cursed Richard III.

Screech owl

Owl Quotes

The screech-owl, screeching loud,

Puts the wretch that lies in woe

In remembrance of a shroud.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

At the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck reminds everyone how late it is.


Their music frightful as the serpent’s hiss,

And boding screech-owls make the concert full!

William Shakespeare, Henry VI Part II (iii.2)

Songs of death

Out on you, owls! nothing but songs of death?

William Shakespeare, Richard III, Part IV

Here, King Richard receives bad news from his messengers and shares his frustration with them.

The owl by day

The owl by day,

If he arises, is mocked and wondered at.

William Shakespeare, Henry VI

The owl at noon

And yesterday the bird of night did sit

Even at noon-day, upon the market-place,

Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies

Do so conjointly meet, let not men say,

These are their reasons; they are natural;

For, I believe they are portentous things

Unto the climate that they point upon.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Even more ominously, this owl appears at noon.

Goodnight, my good owl

Goodnight, my good owl

William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour Lost

Like many of Shakespeare lines, this one from Boyet sounds innocent, but is actually an insult. He is hinting that the subject looks wise but is actually an idiot.

Dialogue of the Owl and the Cuckoo

When icicles hang by the wall

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail

And Tom bears logs into the hall

And milk comes frozen home in pail,

When blood is nipped and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl

Tu-whit, tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keep the pot. 

When all aloud the wind doth blow

And coughing drowns the parson’s saw

And birds sit brooding in the snow

And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl

Then nightly sings the staring owl,

Tu-whit, tu-who, a merry note, 

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour Lost

At the end of Love’s Labour Lost, Shakespeare presents The Dialogue of the Owl and the Cuckoo, where the owl represents winter and the cuckoo represents spring.

Related post: Names for Owls

Owl proverbs

Owl Quotes

The wisest of all birds

The owl is the wisest of all birds because the more it sees, the less it talks.

African proverb

When the owl sings

Cuando el tecolote canta, el indio muere (“When the owl cries/sings, the Indian dies”).

Ancient Mexican saying

This ancient Mexican saying comes from the Mayan belief that owls are harbingers of death.

The owl, the enemy

Furthermore, their horrible faces frightened people. They were the enemies, the owls. They incited to evil, to sin and to discord.

They were also false in their hearts, black and white at the same time, envious and tyrannical.

Mayan Popol Vuh

Related post: Tips to Identify Owl Feathers

Quotes about owls and night

Owl Quotes

Of course, we closely associate owls with night.  And here are countless quotes along those lines.


Every night the owl with his wild monkey-face calls through the black branches, and the mice freeze and the rabbits shiver in the snowy fields— and then there is the long, deep trough of silence when he stops singing, and steps into the air.

Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Volume One

Night is mine

With the prominent hood

The pygmy owl screeched loudly,

“Not yours,

Night is mine.

Ahila, I Named The Village


People say the darkness is where secrets are best hidden. Night time brings clarity and focus to owls, even if the aperture of this vision comes with a stigma.

Kimberly Morgan, On Angels and Rabbit Holes

I am here

That little owl with a call as steady as my heartbeat was telling anyone who would listen, ‘I am here.’ We were listening. We’re listening still.

Heather Durham, Going Feral: Field Notes on Wonder and Wanderlust

Drink with the owls

Those who drink whiskey with the owls at night, cannot soar with the eagles the next day.

Brian D. Ratty, Tillamook Passage: Far Side of the Pacific

Horned owl

In the hollow tree, in the old gray tower,

The spectral Owl doth dwell;

Dull, hated, despised, in the sunshine hour,

But at dusk—he’s abroad and well!

Not a bird of the forest e’er mates with him—

All mock him outright, by day:

But at night, when the woods grow still and dim,

The boldest will shrink away!

O, when the night falls, and roosts the fowl,

Then, then, is the reign of the Horned Owl!

Barry Cornwall, The Owl

Screech owl

The screech-owl, with ill-boding cry,

Portends strange things, old women say;

Stops every fool that passes by,

And frights the school-boy from his play.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Politicians, Stanza 4.

Hunting owls

IN THE WILD, the father owl hunts relentlessly. He has to provide approximately six mice per baby per night. The usual brood is five babies. The father also has to feed his mate, who never leaves the nest and eats about three mice per day. And he must feed himself about four mice a day. This adds up to some thirty-seven full-grown mice every night during nesting season.

Stacey O’Brien, Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl

Finally, we will wrap up our list of owl quotes with this remarkable fact about just how much a father owl hunts to feed his family!