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25 Enigmatic Vintage Owl Drawings & Illustrations In The Public Domain

Dive into the captivating world of vintage owl drawings and illustrations. Explore a curated collection that brings to life the mystique and elegance of these nocturnal sentinels through the artistry of yesteryears. Perfect for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

I think I’ve heard more owls than I’ve seen. This is unsurprising, as they are nocturnal birds with a distinct hooting call. There used to be one that lived in the tree outside my bedroom window. I never saw it, but I could hear it calling every night.

My father is an ornithologist, and I once asked him what his favourite bird was. He replied owls, without any hesitation. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask him why, but I have compiled a list of interesting facts about owls that might explain his choice. And hopefully, he will enjoy this collection of owl drawings and illustrations.

Interesting Facts About Owls

  • There are over 200 species of owls. Ranging in size from the tiny Elf Owl at 5 – 6 inches tall, to the Great Grey Owl, which can be as tall as 32 inches.
  • They are found on all continents of the world except Antarctica.
  • As already mentioned, they are nocturnal birds.
  • Owls are exceptional hunters, they hunt insects, small mammals, other birds and in some cases fish. A Northern Hawk Owl can detect a vole up to half a mile away.
  • An owl’s sharp beak and powerful talons allow it to kill its prey before swallowing it whole.
  • Owls have a distinctive look of a flat face with large eyes. They are farsighted and can’t focus clearly on near objects.
  • Owl eyeballs aren’t completely spherical and can’t move. They compensate for this by being able to rotate their necks 270 degrees.
  • The ears of many owl species are asymmetrical. This increases their ability to accurately pinpoint the location of a particular sound.
  • The collective noun for a group of Owls is a Parliament. This originates from a description of a meeting of Owls in The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Owls often feature in fiction. Examples of famous owls include “Owl” in Winnie the Pooh and the “Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear, to Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl.
  • In western culture, Owls are normally associated with wisdom, but in many other cultures, they are considered a bad omen.
vintage owl drawings

How To Download the Vintage Owl Drawings and Illustrations

Click on the title above the owl image you would like to download. A higher-resolution picture of the owl will open as a new window in your browser. If you then click on that image with your mouse, you can save the owl illustration to your hard drive.

Print 1. How To Draw Owls

An illustration showing you how to draw three different types of owls. The owl drawings are from a French book, “Les animaux tels qu’ils sont” (animals as they are), by Robert Lambry and Léon Lambry, 1930.

how to draw owls

2. Be Not Wise in Thine Own Eyes

A beautiful illustration from the Library of Congress 1872. I love the floral boarder.

Owl advert

3. The Owls Serenade

“The Owls Serenade”, 1894 sheet music cover. The sheet music was published by Petrie Music Co, Chicago. From the Library at Duke University.

the owls seranade

4. German Owls

German Owls from the book “Deutschlands Fauna” published in 1839.

German owl drawings

5. Snowy Owl

A Snowy owl drawing from “Illustrations of the American Ornithology of Alexander Wilson and Charles Lucian Bonaparte” was published in 1835.

Snowy owls are artic birds and one of the largest species of owl. It is the only owl with predominantly white plumage. Harry Potter’s owl Hedwig is a female snowy owl.  

Snowy Owl Illustration

6. Virginian Horned Owl etc

Four owl illustrations from the “Edinburgh journal of natural history and of the physical sciences“, 1835.

The owls illustrated include a Virginian Horned Owl, Long-Eared Owl and Mottled Owl.

7. Boreal Owl etc

Another collection of four owl drawings from the “Edinburgh Journal of natural history and the physical sciences“, 1835.

 The first owl is a boreal owl or Tengmalm’s owl, a small shy owl that is rarely seen by people.

vintage owl illustrations

8. Oriental Bay Owl

A lovely drawing of an Oriental Bay Owl from the Iconographia Zoologica collection at the University of Amsterdam.

Oriental Bay Owl drawing

9. Spotted Owlet

Another vintage owl from the Iconographia Zoologica.

Spotted Owlet

10. Little Owl

Little Owl  drawing by John Gould, from “The Birds of Great Britain” published: London 1873.

11. Spotted Eagle Owl

The spotted eagle-owl also known as the African eagle-owl is a medium-sized species of owl, one of the smallest of the eagle owls.

The print is from “Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d’oiseaux“, 1838 by F.G. Levrault et al.

Spotted eagle owl

12. Great Horned Owl

A painting of the Great Horned Owl by George Edwards and from the Iconographia Zoologica collection.

Great horned owl

13. Assorted American Owls

Five species of American Owls from the “Illustrations of the American ornithology of Alexander Wilson and Charles Lucian Bonaparte” 1835.

The owls illustrations include, a Hawk Owl, Barred Owl, Barn Owl, Little Owl and Burrowing Owl.

American owls drawing

14. More American Owls

More species of American Owls from the “Illustrations of the American ornithology of Alexander Wilson and Charles Lucian Bonaparte” 1835.

15. John Gould’s Boreal Owl

A Boreal Owl (Tengmalm’s Owl) with a mouse, drawing by John Gould, from “The Birds of Great Britain” published: London 1873.

There is another Gould owl print available to download with these vintage bird wood slice ornaments.

16. Eagle Owl Painting

A delightful Japanese painting of an Eagle Owl in a magnolia tree by Kubo Shunman. The Japanese woodblock print is from the collection at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Eagle Owl Painting

17. Scops Owl

Another delightful little Japanese woodblock painting of an owl. Scops Owl, Cherry Blossoms, and full Moon, woodblock print, ink and colour on paper by Ohara Koson.

Scops Owl

18. Eastern Screech Owl

Owl drawing by Mark Catesby from “Catesby Natural History of Carolina“, published in 1731.

Eastern Screech Owl

19. Australian Boobook Owl

Painting by Thomas Watling 1790. The original is at the National Museum of Victoria in Australia.

Australian boobook owl

20. Little Horned Owl

An drawing of a Little Horned Owl from “Indian Zoology” published in 1790.

Little Horned Owl

21. Eurasian Scops Owl

Another vintage owl illustration from the Iconographia Zoologica – Special Collections University of Amsterdam.

22. Spectacled Owl

Another vintage owl illustration from the Iconographia Zoologica – Special Collections University of Amsterdam.

Spectacled Owl

23. Great Grey Owl

 A beautiful print of a Great Grey Owl from the “Birds of America” by John James Audubon. 

This owl featured in the collection of vintage woodland animal illustrations.

You’ll find Audubon peilican prints here.

24. Great Horned Owl 2

Another lovely drawing of a great horned owl from the collection at the Library of Congress, from 1874.

Great horned owl drawing

25. Pair of Perched Owls.

A pair of owls perched in pine trees, from Martin Gerlach’s vintage plant art book “Die Pflanze in Kunst und Gewerbe” 1886.

a pair of wols in a pine tree

Print 26: Vintage Japanese Owls

A pair of owls perched in blossoming trees by the Japanese artist Kono Bairei.

Japanese painting of Owl in tree

I hope you enjoyed these owl drawings, illustrations and paintings. There is a printable vintage owl board game here.

Don’t forget to check out the many other vintage bird prints on Pictureboxblue. These include other iconic species of birds, such as penguins, toucans, herons, flamingos, hummingbirds and my personal favourite cockatoos.

There are also the beautiful bird naturalist prints of George Shaw and the bird identification posters of Adolphe Millot.

Owls are often associated with Halloween; for more spooky inspiration, check out the creepy vintage spider prints.


Tuesday 1st of November 2022



Tuesday 1st of November 2022

You're welcome; glad you enjoyed them.


Tuesday 9th of November 2021

Thanks much for another great collection!


Tuesday 9th of November 2021

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures.


Wednesday 20th of October 2021

These are so charming, Claire! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!


Thursday 21st of October 2021

Thank you so much.

Debra Oliver

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

wonderful old illustrations and information. I loved reading this and saving some to Pinterest. perfect for fall!


Thursday 21st of October 2021

Thank you, they are lovely prints.


Sunday 17th of October 2021

Thank you! I love owls and this is great!!


Sunday 17th of October 2021

Thank you so much.