QUIZ : How Much Do You Know About Owls In Harry Potter?

Hedwig on Harry's arm

Looking for a funny and cute pet owl – or any other bird – name? Well, why not getting your inspiration from one of the owls in Harry Potter books and movies? If you do so, you’re probably a big fan of those… But are you really? Here is a short quiz on owls in Harry Potter novels, let’s see how much do you know truly.


What is the name of Harry Potter’s first owl?

Harry’s first owl is named Hedwig. A cool name if you want to use it for your bird.

What kind of owl is it?

Hedwig is a Snowy Owl. In real life, this breed of owls can be found in arctic tundras in North America, Europe and Asia, but also in some northern British Isles. What makes Snowy Owls so popular is that they were the first recognizable bird species to be depicted in art anywhere in the world: indeed, long time ago, as the arctic climate used to stretch farther south, they could be found as far as south of France, where  an etched  drawing of two Snowy Owls and their chicks was discovered on Palaeolithic cave art in Ariège, south of France.

Is Hedwig a girl or a boy?

In the novels as well as in the movies, Hedwig is a female, although in real life it is actually a male. You can tell because of the extra whiteness of its feathers: female have dark markings on their plumage. They are also bigger and heavier (around 4 pounds for males, 4pounds and a half for females), which would have make it more difficult for the Daniel Radcliffe, the actor playing Harry Potter, to handle.

How many owls played the character of Hedwig?

There were actually 7 different owls playing Hedwig in the movies. Their names in real life are Gizmo, Kasper, Oops, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo and Bandit.

What is the first big package Harry gets from an owl?

The first big package Harry gets from an owl is his Nimbus 2000 broom. Note that Snowy Owls can carry as much a 1 kilogram per flight. A regular corn broom weighting approximately 0.6 kilogram, a real broom wouldn’t actually be a problem for this type of owl. It could have been a real shooting!


What is the name of the Weasley family’s owl?

Its name is Errol. Good enough for your pet owl?

What’s its main impediment?

Errol is very clumsy! In real life, owls just cannot crash as well as Errol manages in the movies, not even the owl playing Errol. Indeed, owl have hollow bones and are much too fragile to slam into furnitures like that. So in order to shoot these scenes, film-makers had to film a real owl flying gracefully, then substitute a dummy owl for the crashes with special effects.

What type of owl is it?

Errol is a Great Gray Owl. Great Grey Owls are also famous as they are the biggest and largest type of owl in the world, measured from head to tail. However, although they are maybe an inch or 2 longer than Snowy Owls, they are much lighter than these last, sometimes as far as half their weight. For this reason Great Grey Owls’ wingspan is also quite shorter: they don’t have to carry as much weight! However, consequently, they cannot carry very heavy items: 3 pounds is already very heavy for them.


What is Ron’s owl name?

This is a tough one, but also a great one to use for your pet bird: its name is Pigwidgeon.

What breed of owl is it?

Well, many novices thought at first that Pigwidgeon, because it is so minute, was a Little Owl, which are one of the smallest species of owl in the world. They have the same genus and are closely related to Burrowing Owl. The Little Owl also have its part of fame as in mythology, it is known for being the sacred owl of the goddess Athena, which gave this type of owl its scientific name: Athene noctua. For that matter, it is also shown on coins from ancient Athens.

But in reality, J.K.Rowling has refuted this assertion, maintaining that Pigwidgeon is actually a Eurasian or Common Scops Owl, which even tinier than Little Owls and has ear tufts on the head: its head feathers stick up and look like real ears! In the end, Scops Owls weren’t part of the movies, a fact that disappointed many owls lovers and experts.


What kind of owl is it?

Draco’s owl is an Eagle Owl, which is similar to Great Horned Owls. Eagle Owls are not native to Great Britain, where the Harry Potter’s movies have been filmed, although several specimens have escaped captivity, which worries scientists as it could disturb the balance of local nature. One specificity of Eagle Owls is that they perch with the two normal front toes facing forward, while the “thumb” toe and the back toe face backward. Have you noticed it in the movies?


What kind of owl is it?

Percy’s owl is a Screetch Owl, a type of owl that is related to Scops Owls, like Pidwigeon. You can find this piece of information in chapter 5 of the Prisoner of Askaban, when Rowling describes the Weasleys, Hermione and Harry leaving the Leaky Cauldron.


What is the role of owls in Harry Potter’s book and movies?

They are messenger owls: they bridge the magical and muggle world, carrying mail and delivering packages by flying from one to another world.

What type of owl mainly appears in promotional material for the movie?

Posters, screen-savers and other promotional material show mainly Great Horned Owls.


Now, if getting an owl as a pet, remember that cages used in the movies are far to small for real owls: it would actually be illegal in Great Britain as the legislation requires all bird cages to be big enough to allow the bird to stretch its wings fully without touching anything. To keep it in anything smaller requires a veterinary certificate. In the US, keeping an owl as a pet is simply forbidden by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The only way to own a captive owl is to ask for a research or education permit, which are very difficult to get.

What about you? Do you have a pat owl at home? What type is it? What did you name it? What’s its cage like? Tell us about it, we might get inspired from your story for a new article about owls!

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