Mythical Facts: What It Means When an Owl Hoots at Night

what it means when an owl hoots at night

Many cultures around the world have various opinions on what it means when an owl hoots at night. Some believe the bird carries a positive message while others consider it a bad omen. So, what’s your theory?

This article looks at the most common opinions on what it means when an owl hoots at night.

Is It Bad to Hear an Owl at Night?


In many cultures, an owl is usually associated with misfortune, evil spirits, and death. This belief dates back many centuries. For instance, ancient Romans and Greeks associated this bird with witches and sorcerers. They believed that witches and wizards could transform themselves into owls.

They also believed that wizards and witches could use the bird as their messenger. In other communities, an owl is viewed as an indication of bad luck. They believe that it’s an agent of death. Some old folk tales suggest that if you hear an owl hoot three times at night, you will experience bad luck.

Other folklores purport that owls are the only creatures that can cohabit with ghosts. That’s why many haunted houses on Halloween are decorated with owls. Some people won’t buy or rent a vacant house where owls have nested because they believe it’s haunted. Other people associate the sound of an owl hooting at night with the voices of the souls of their long-departed loved ones.

Why Do Owls Hoot at Night?


Since owls live a solitary and secretive life, many people are uneasy when they encounter one or hear one hooting near them. In most cases, owls will come out of their nests at night, especially those that live near human habitats. That’s why they are only heard and never seen.  But if you love bird watching, hiking, or camping in the woods, you are likely to see owls during the day.

There are several reasons why owls hoot at night. Like other birds, owls communicate through hooting. So, when you hear an owl hooting at night or during the day, know that it’s trying to convey a specific message. Here are some of the main reasons why owls hoot at night.

1. Marking Territory

Owls mainly hoot to mark their territory and ward off would-be intruders. As mentioned above, owls are solitary and don’t like intruders. They either live alone or in pairs. So, they’ll hoot loudly when they sense an intruder.

2. Alerting Companions

They’ll also hoot to alert their companions when they sense the presence of a predator. Although owls are carnivores, they’re prey to many predators, including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, black bears, and more.

Although they can easily evade these predators by flying away or fighting them off, sometimes they get trapped. So, if one owl sees any of these predators, it’ll hoot to alert its companion to the presence of a predator.

3. Communicating with Mates

Sometimes owls will make special hoots as a way of communicating with their mates. When they want to mate, they will certain sounds to let their mates know that they are ready for the action. In other cases, they’ll pair with their mates and perform duets together as a way of reaffirming their bond.

What Does an Owl Hooting Symbolize?


When people’s earthly restraints become too tight, they turn to the owl’s symbolism for answers. This winged creature is believed to lift people’s wishes and desires up into the heavens and return with divine messages. Therefore, understanding the symbolism of an owl will help you to understand the world around you.

Because of the mystery surrounding owls, these creatures are viewed as symbols of paranormal and fierce intelligence, as well as royal silence. Owls are great intellectuals and hunters, especially since they plan out every strategy before they take action, rather than using physical force.

As mentioned above, some people view owls as agents of death and black magic, while others see them as symbols of wisdom and fortitude. Here are some examples of owl symbolism and their meanings.

1. Native American Owl Symbolism

In Native America, people viewed owls as symbols of both intelligence and death. They considered them guardians of consecrated knowledge of the higher power, including the understanding of weather patterns and the mysteries of life after death. Native Americans also believed that this night-time bird accompanied the dead in their final journey to life after death.

For this reason, many Americans believed that any sound of an owl hooting at night would bring them a bad omen, especially death. Some adults even used this myth to scare off the little ones. They told them that if they stayed out at night, owls would carry them into their afterlife.

Others believed that the circles around an owl’s eyes are the fingernails of the long-departed souls and ghosts. They also believed that seeing an owl was a reunion with their long-departed loved ones. The sighting of this nocturnal bird was also interpreted to mean that their dead ancestors were sending them warnings about breaking their tribal taboos.

But not every sighting of an owl symbolized death and misfortune. In some cases, this bird was believed to symbolize hope and endurance. Some tribes even used the bird as part of their tribal ceremonies.

2. Christianity Owl Symbolism

The symbolic and sacred representation of owls in Christianity dates back to the ancient time when human beings couldn’t read or write. The Bible has mentioned owls in the original King James version about five times.

For instance, Leviticus 11:17-18 prohibits Jews from eating owls as part of their kosher nutritional rules, together with pelicans and carrion vultures. This dietary rule has also been confirmed in Deuteronomy 14:15-17.

3. Celtic Owl Symbolism

In Celtic, owls are seen as warriors or guardians of honor. Celtics believe that the bird’s wisdom enabled it to understand the underworld’s path. They also see it as a brutal protector of honor and truth. Therefore, the bird doesn’t entertain deception.

Celtics also believe that an owl is a perfect messenger between the universe and the underworld. That’s why it sees clearly in the dark. This bird is also a symbol of Celtic’s ancient goddess of productiveness. Up to now, many Celtics still wear clothes branded with owls.

4. Owls in a Dream Symbolism

Generally, when you see a bird in your dream, it’s telling you to drop the negativity in your life or your past. But when an owl visits you in a dream, it could mean several things. For instance, it could be warning you against being deceptive or telling you to be aware of the deception around you.

In other instances, it could be your subconscious mind attracting you towards conscious actions or thoughts in your life. It could be your subliminal mind bringing you to the realization that your thoughts or deeds are counterproductive, especially to your divine goals. Here are more interpretations and symbolism of owls in a dream.

• One owl – means that you need to be more aware of your surroundings.
• Several owls –  it means that you should expect to get good advice from someone.
• Flying owl – it means your family will experience problems soon. This could be a serious conflict between members of your family.
• Black owl – this is a sign of divine growth and awareness.
• Dead owl – this means someone in your family will die. It represents the transition from one life to another.
• Barn owl – this represents a better financial situation.
• Common owl – it represents change. It’s telling you to focus on yourself and your needs.
• True owl – It symbolizes a struggle with restlessness or lack of sleep.
• Snowy owl – It represents contentment and peace in the future.

Meanings of an Owl Hooting at Night


As noted above, different cultures have different interpretations of what the sound of an owl hooting at night means. Here are some of the common meanings according to different cultures.


Many Native American tribes associate owls hooting at night with death and other misfortunes. They believe that this bird is used by witches to deliver evil spirits. Therefore, they don’t welcome the sound of an owl hooting at night because they believe it will bring bad luck.

Other tribes in America, like Cherokees, believe that this bird can communicate with spiritual healers and enchanters. They also believe that witches can transform themselves into owls and haunt them at night.


Romans believe that when an owl calls at night there will be death, sickness, or bad weather in the area. In ancient Rome, people believed that the deaths of prominent Romans were predicted by owls hooting at night. For instance, Julius Caesar’s death was reportedly predicted by an owl that hooted at night while sitting on the roof of his house.


Unlike many cultures, Greeks believe that an owl hooting at night brings good fortune. In ancient Greece, an owl was associated with Athena, the goddess of wisdom. It was also seen as a symbol of the victory of Greek soldiers in battle.


Arabians believe that an owl hooting at night embodies evil spirits. They consider them evil spirits that run away with children at night. Sometimes this sound is considered to be the spirit of someone killed unjustly weeping and wailing until it avenges itself. In the past, Arabians believed that the death owl continuously flew over the grave of the murdered person wailing until their death was avenged.


Chinese believe the sound of an owl hooting at night brings bad luck. That’s why you’ll find owls painted on burial vases. If an owl hoots near your house, it means that there will be death or sickness in your family. Some Chinese people also take the hooting as a warning to start digging a grave because one of their family members will die.


In India, the meaning of an owl hooting is based on the number of hoots made. One hoot means death while two hoots mean success. Three owl hoots mean a man in your family is about to get married.

When an owl makes four near your house, it suggests a disturbance in the future, while five hoots mean you are about to go on a journey. Six owl hoots mean that you’ll be receiving some guests soon. if the owl makes seven hoots, it signifies psychological turmoil, while eight consecutive hoots send a warning of unexpected death.

Gretchen Walker
Gretchen is a homemaker by day and writer by night. She takes a keen interest in life as it unfolds around her and spends her free time observing people go about their everyday affairs.