Animals In Appalachia Appalachia

The Owl is Still in Wilson Holler

 

owls in Appalachia

Several years ago I shared a story about a plastic owl with you.

The fake owl is still alive and well in Wilson Holler. One day last week I noticed he’d moved out to Granny’s to keep an eye on her garden.

The only owl folklore I can think of off the top of my head comes from an episode of Andy Griffith: if a couple sees an owl in broad daylight they’re bound to marry.

I checked out the Frank C. Brown Collection of NC Folklore and found these tidbits:

  • When you hear an owl hoot after night it will rain in about 3 weeks (Sounds kind of vague if you ask me!)
  • To make a hoot owl stop hollering, take a string and tie a knot in it and it will stop (Ah ha! This must be the origin of the whippoorwill story Pap told me.)
  • When the dogs tree, if an owl hoots on the left there is no need to go to him, because he will leave before you get there; but if one hollos on the right, you will be sure to catch whatever has been treed. (Makes me wish I could ask Papaw Wade if he followed this folklore when coon hunting-I sort of doubt it.)
  • If a coon hunting party hears an owl laugh just as they are setting out for the night, they will go back home. But if he “holloed” “Coon,” they will have good luck. (Never heard an owl laugh but now I want to.)
  • Someone dies every time an owl hoots. (Like much Appalachian folklore this one is pretty extreme!)
  • If an owl hoots on the west side of the mountain it denotes good weather.

Tipper

 

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    RB
    July 30, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Good to see the old plastic owl being recycled into another good use.
    A few years ago, I had a big flame-point Siamese that was mostly cream colored. One night we went out to bring him in only to find him high up and out on the limb of a dogwood tree looking at something in another nearby tree. We looked and looked, and finally could see a big old owl up there looking back at him. It’s something to fondly remember.
    Prayers everyone has a wonderful week, and a safe one too.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Ken Yount
    July 29, 2017 at 7:41 am

    If you want to hear an owl laugh, Google ‘Screech owl call’.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 28, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Tipper,
    I love Owls….especially “Wise Old Owls” of which there are a few that comment on your blog…
    Years ago (1957) our project in art class was to build a large paper-mache object…I built a large owl, with a wing holding a pointer, dressed in the typical cap, gown and round spectacles resting on his beak…representing a wise old owl…I used feathers out of an old pillow (my grannies) and glued them all over the body…I got an A* but think they took pity for all the time it took for gluing on all those brownish feathers…ha
    We have the Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Screech Owls and Barn Owls here on our place….The Great Horned *hoot owl* usually calls only late at night and seems to prefer calling from the top of the ridge…He likes to hear himself echo I think, very loud! The Barn Owl beautiful and quiet as a whisper glides out of the woods to our neighbors barn just after dark…Haven’t seen it since one barn was tore down…The best nighttime mouse predator in and around barns…During mating season Is when I have heard the laughing barred owls…They begin at dusk and call also at daybreak…start laughing when more than one or two are in mating competition…The only one that really gives me the “shivers” is the screech owl…I have been scared more than once by their call on a chilly October evening when all is real quiet and a “ladies screeching scream” echo’s out of the woods…Even though after the initial shock and realizing what the sound is on a dark spooky cold night it will send me in the house with chill bumps,,,Ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 28, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Tipper,
    There use to be lots of owls in our holler and one time me and Harold went with daddy over to J.C. Holloway’s Gulf station. And after dark a Screech Owl flew into the Post Office door and knocked himself out. J.C.’s wife ran the Post Office connected to the Gulf Station. We took that booger home and put it under a big wash tub. The next morning when we checked, it was gone. Daddy said “I guess that ole Fox got it.” But mama told us that Daddy turned it loose and set it in the laurels behind the house. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 28, 2017 at 9:52 am

    There is a garage/used car lot/junk yard/wrecker service in Drexel that has a plastic owl like that. Every time I drive by there it is on a different car/mower/whatever and looking in a different direction. Maybe it’s to keep birds from doing their duties on the cars but even that couldn’t make them look any worst. I thought about stopping and asking what the owl was about but I’m skeered of getting snake bit.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    July 28, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Several years ago, I bought six fake owls just like yours to hang around my grapes, fruit trees and also in my gazebo. I don’t know any owl folklore, but I do know facts about them. They don’t work! We haven’t been able to sit in the gazebo swing all year due to bird droppings on the furniture AND the two fake owls hanging beside a few fake snakes. A roofer is scheduled to replace the year old waffle shaped roof on Monday. The roof makes it easy for birds to find shelter and nest in the ridges. I hope your fake owl is wiser than mine.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 28, 2017 at 8:51 am

    We had a great horned owl and his mate that loved on our property. Every year we watched them hold flight school for their young. We had little screech owls and one med size owl, don’t know what type that nested in a broken off tree trunk, scared our lawn person to death when he mowed near it. I always loved to hear them hoot

  • Reply
    Jack
    July 28, 2017 at 8:47 am

    I was told that you can take off your left shoe and turn it upside down to stop an owl from hooting.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 28, 2017 at 8:46 am

    In 1967 author Margaret Craven released a book “I heard the Owl call my Name” which became a best seller. It revolved around the Kwakwaka’waka Indian Tribe’s belief that if you heard an owl call your name you were about to die. %his book spread the legend of imminent death should you hear an owl call your name.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 28, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Very rarely hear owls here. It would be nice except that a ‘hoot’ owl would be really bad news for our neighbor’s barn cats. I don’t even hear a barred owl, the one that asks, “Who cooks for you all?” I would expect it to be the most common kind in this neck of the woods. As best I recall, I have only ever heard a screech owl here and that was once in 25 years.

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    July 28, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I was doing a storytelling event for a man’s 50th birthday celebration at Vogel when I realized their attention wasn’t on me anymore but was focused over my right shoulder. Finally one of them got up and snapped photos with his phone. They said a solid white owl (3 feet tall according to them) had perched in the tree behind me and was staring at them.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 28, 2017 at 8:28 am

    That’s a better looking plastic owl than any I have seen! In the winter and early spring, I heard owls
    in the pecan tree outside my bedroom window for several mornings just before daylight. Such a lovely sound! I have an idea that every time they hooted, somebody somewhere in the world was dying —
    but also, somewhere in the world, a baby was being born.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    July 28, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Many of the older folks I grew up around believed that an owl called their name just before they were to die.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 28, 2017 at 8:24 am

    The only one I can think of. If an owl hoots outside your window someone in the family will die soon.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 28, 2017 at 8:24 am

    The only one I can think of. If an owl hoots outside your window someone in the family will die soon.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 28, 2017 at 8:24 am

    The only one I can think of. If an owl hoots outside your window someone in the family will die soon.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 28, 2017 at 8:24 am

    The only one I can think of. If an owl hoots outside your window someone in the family will die soon.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 28, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Tipper–Hearing an owl laugh isn’t really funny. The noise is actually quite scary, and I will virtually guarantee that the first time many folks heard it the sound frightened the bejeebers out of them. It’s like something straight out of bedlam.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    July 28, 2017 at 8:06 am

    I do not know if this is something that works or if it is folklore.
    I remember as a child asking my Mother about fake owls placed in public places in our town. She told me they were placed anywhere they had a problem with pigeons droppings. Statues and buildings and public gathering places were being protected from pigeon poop.
    Can’t tell you if it worked but I do not remember stepping in any.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 28, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Someone’s dying somewhere in the world all the time so that one is accurate. I seriously doubt if an owl knows right from left and which is the west side of the mountain! Other than that I guess they’ all true. LOL!
    And the one from Andy Griffith, well you know that’s bound to be true cause Andy knows everything!
    I’m glad to hear the owl in keeping an eye on Granny’s garden!

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