owls.

Standard
 

 Meet the owls that lived in the Smithsonian Castle

These barn owls used to live in the Smithsonian Institution Building, AKA the Castle, in the 1970s.

The Smithsonian Secretary in the 70s, S. Dillon Ripley, was an ornithologist and thought the owls could hunt the rats attracted to the new garbage cans on the National Mall. He named them Increase and Diffusion—a nod to the Smithsonian’s mission of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge”—and they lived in the building’s west tower.

The pair hatched three owlets in the spring of 1977. One of those new owlets fell out of the tower, but was recaptured and brought safely inside by a staff member. After raising their family, the owls departed and never returned.

This Smithsonian Institution Archives photo shows one of the pair refusing to take a message.

(Not to be confused with the previous Castle owl residents, who were known to crash into windows and swoop down on guards on the National Mall at night, and whose extensive droppings caused the collapse of the floor of a tower. They remain nameless.)

In honor of International Owl Awareness Day

The clamorous owl that nightly hoots and wonders at our quaint spirits.
-William Shakespeare

Read the full history of Smithsonian Castle owls from Smithsonian Institution Archives

Credits: Hannah S. Ostroff, Smithosonian

56 responses »

  1. What a lovely story! We have owls nesting in our Oak Trees in the garden. They are not Barn Owls though, but Tawny Owls. I rarely see them, but we hear their ‘Twitt-Twoo’ calls at night.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Owls have long fascinated me. Their eyes. Their hoot. Minnesota is home to the International Owl Center. As you may recall from my blog posts, the Owl Center auctioned original owl art by Ukrainian children to raise money for UNICEF’s efforts in Ukraine.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply to azurea20 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s