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190 × 135 × 15 mm
216 pages
123 illustrations, 91 in colour
01 Oct 2009

Owl Desmond Morris

‘The owls are not what they seem.’ From ancient Babylon to Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat and the grandiloquent, absent-minded Wol from Winnie the Pooh to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, owls have woven themselves into the fabric of human culture from earliest times. Beautiful, silent, pitiless predators of the night, possessing contradictory qualities of good and evil, they are enigmatic creatures that dwell throughout the world yet barely make their presence known. In his fascinating new book, bestselling author and broadcaster Desmond Morris explores the natural and cultural history of one of nature’s most popular creatures.

Morris describes the evolution, the many species, and the wide spread of owls around the world - excluding Antarctica, owls are found on every land mass, and they range in size from 28 centimetres (the Least Pygmy Owl) to more than 70 centimetres tall (the Eurasian Eagle Owl). As a result of their wide distribution, owls also occur in the folk-tales, myths and legends of many native peoples, and Morris explores all these, as well as the many examples of owls in art, film, literature and popular culture.

A new title by an acclaimed author, and featuring many telling illustrations from nature and culture, Owl will appeal to the many devotees of this emblematic bird. Despite the fact that many have never seen or even heard an owl, he illustrates through this enticing read that the owl’s presence is still very real to us today.

‘This paperback is filled with drawings and photographs of owls and our depictions of owls throughout time. An avid fan of art, I was especially enthralled by seeing Pablo Picassos paintings and ceramics of owls. Harry Potter fans will certainly enjoy this book’ — Grrlscientist, The Guardian

‘In this small, elegant volume, Morris explores our paradoxical relationship with the owl, symbol of both wisdom and evil. He examines its depiction in mythology, literature and art and provides an overview of its fascinating biology. Beautiful photographs illustrate the allure of this mysterious creature.’ — Sierra Magazine

Owl is sparely and eloquently written, scholarly and highly readable . . . an entertaining and informative little gem. It will particularly appeal to the many devotees of these eternally iconic birds.’ — Emu-Austral Ornithology

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Desmond Morris is a world-renowned zoologist and television presenter, and the author of many best-selling books on human and animal behaviour, including Cats in Art (Reaktion, 2017). He has also written four books in Reaktion’s Animal series.

1    Prehistoric Owls
2    Ancient Owls
3    Medicinal Owls
4    Symbolic Owls
5    Emblematic Owls
6    Literary Owls
7    Tribal Owls
8    Owls and Artists
9    Typical Owls
10  Unusual Owls
Appendix: Classification of Owls
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements