Birds have been connected with Halloween folklore for as long as we can remember. The reason is that many cultures (ancient and modern) view certain types of birds as dark and devilish.
How can innocent birds be associated with the demons of Halloween? It’s all to do with superstitions and myths.
In Germany, Ravens are said to be able to find the souls of the dead and may even contain the souls of the damned. While here in England, at the Tower of London, legend says that if anything should happen to the six ravens that live there, then England will be invaded.
A raven on the roof can foretell misfortune to the inhabitants inside, whilst a raven on top of a church is bad news for the whole community.
Crows, a cousin of the raven, occasionally attack and kill small animals, hence how they have become a part of Halloween tradition. Their shrill call has an unnerving sound to many who hear it in the dark, autumnal skies. They are scavengers; but will happily eat berries, insects, grains and wriggly worms.
Many superstitions persist to this day regarding owls. According to some, they bring bad luck and announce a death. They are solitary hunters; and make no sound while flying. Their ‘hoot’ can be chilling to hear, but it’s really a wonderful way of communicating with a mate and declaring its territory - Ancient Romans considered it bad luck to see an owl during daylight hours, whilst the Japanese saw horned owls as demons. More recently, though, owls are now seen as a symbol of wisdom, but with a turning head, vibrant eyes, silent flight and night hunting, it’s no wonder they’ve made it in to Halloween folklore.
Crows, ravens and owls have been given a reputation as death eating creatures but they are amongst some of the most intelligent birds that fly free in our countryside. Ravens and crows can imitate human speech, while owls are the only birds that can fully rotate their heads.
We’d like to wish you all a happy and safe Halloween – but be on the lookout for owls, ravens and crows!
Written by Angela and Chris