Owls Have Been Viewed As Symbols Of Wisdom For Thousands Of Years, But Studies Have Shown These Birds Actually Aren’t The Smartest Feathered Friends In Our Skies

giedriius - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual owl

Like many birds in the animal kingdom, owls are steeped in lore. For thousands of years, various cultures have regarded owls as a symbol of wisdom.

The intelligent owl is a character that shows up in ancient Greek legend, an old English nursery rhyme, and even modern literature and TV. As such, the owl has become a sign of learning.

Some people believe that spotting an owl is good luck because it indicates the beginning of a new chapter in life.

While owls are skilled hunters, with a kill rate of over 85 percent, the truth is they’re not exactly the smartest birds around. When it comes to problem-solving, birds like crows, ravens, and parrots have got them beat.

A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology found that great gray owls were unable to pass a simple cognitive test that involved tugging on a string to receive a treat. Meanwhile, other bird species solved the same test with flying colors.

Owls face some tough competition among avians. Ravens are considered one of the most intelligent non-human species. Although owls may not be the brainiest birds, that doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

According to a study published in Nature, burrowing owls use animal dung to lure dung beetles to their burrows. Instead of constantly being on the prowl for prey, they make their dinner go to them. Clearly, owls have got their wits about them.

Still, by human standards, owls aren’t really wise. So, what led to the idea that they are all-knowing creatures with great knowledge of the mysteries of the universe? The supposed wisdom of owls is based on the shape of their faces.

Their large, round eyes have been linked to human qualities like wisdom and intelligence, which may have led to them being labeled as wise sages in literature. Additionally, owls turn their heads to stare, making it seem like they are giving their undivided attention.

giedriius – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual owl

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered to your inbox.

1 of 2