Urban Plastic Owl


On my way to the Library of the Academy of Letters today I spied something unusual. Somebody on the second floor of Storgatan 30 is having pigeon trouble. They’ve studded the window ledge with nails and stuck a plastic owl to the front of the house.

Those owls are pretty popular. My mom once found one washed up on the seashore near her summer house.


  1. #1 Kevin
    September 11, 2009

    Ha future archaeologists will find widespread evidence of an owl cult. The figures are made of plastic, a virtually indestructible material that represents the highest level of technical innovation achieved by the society, and always accorded prominent positions on their structures.

  2. #2 Martin R
    September 11, 2009

    The owls are not what they seem.

  3. #3 Henrik
    September 11, 2009

    When I was a kid, my parents put up something similar on our balcony to curb the magpies, it worked for about a day.

  4. #4 Jack Spratt
    September 11, 2009

    Several years ago I had jury duty and had to sit in an upper story room in the courthouse for endless hours (no wifi). I could see the roof of an adjacent building where they had installed plastic owls to keep the pigeons away. They had no effect other than occasionally providing a perch for the pigeons.

    Finally I was selected for a theft case jury and we turned the rascal loose.

  5. #5 DianaGainer
    September 12, 2009

    How interesting! Over a decade ago my dad got one made of wood to discourage the woodpeckers from pecking away at his fruit trees. The woodpeckers pecked his wooden owl to pieces, literally. I only saw its pitiful remains, mostly the feet. The woodpeckers were perched on them.

    Here in Texas, crows are a problem and the local grocery store tried installing some ersatz owls (of unknown substance) on the rooftop to keep off said crows. The crows perched alongside the ersatz owl and pooed on the owl’s head.

    I conclude that an owl that fails to either move around or go “hoo! hoo!” fails to scare his supposed prey. Do Swedish owls say “who” by the way, or do they ask some other question?

  6. #6 Martin R
    September 12, 2009

    “Hoo” means kitchen sink or watering trough in Swedish. But an owl’s hoot isn’t thought of as meaning anything.

  7. #7 eleanora.
    September 21, 2009

    Does that mean that place names with Hoo in them (like Sutton Hoo) are just naming different watering holes?

  8. #8 Martin R
    September 21, 2009

    No, English “Hoo” means “hill”.

  9. #9 Martin R
    September 21, 2009

    Sutton Hoo would be named Söderby backe in Swedish.

  10. #10 eleanora
    September 21, 2009

    It’s often hard to tell with English. We’ve got words with origins in German, French, Norse, Breton/Cornish, Latin, Greek, Gaelic and goodness knows how many other languages. I thought the Hoo placenames were in areas of Viking influence and hence expected the name to be Norse. Silly me. I should know better than to assume things like that.

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