Like hawks and eagles, owls are called raptors, or birds of prey, which means they use sharp talons and curved bills to hunt, kill, and eat other animals.
But owls are different from hawks and eagles in several ways. Most owls have huge heads, stocky bodies, soft feathers, short tails, and a reversible toe that can point either forward or backward. Owl’s eyes face forward, like humans do. Most owl species are active at night, not in the daytime.
There are about 250 species of owls in the world. They live on every continent except icy Antarctica. Source: owlresearchinstitute.org
The bird of Athena, the Greek goddess of practical reason, is the little owl (Athene noctua). Owls became symbolic of intelligence because it was thought that they presaged events. On the other hand, because of their nocturnal existence and ominous hooting sounds, owls have also been symbols associated with the occult and the otherworldly. Their secretive habits, quiet flight, and haunting calls have made them the objects of superstition and even fear in many parts of the world. In the Middle Ages the little owl was used as a symbol of the “darkness” before the coming of Christ; by further extension it was used to symbolize a nonbeliever who dwells in this darkness. Similarly the barn owl (Tyto alba) was looked upon as a bird of ill omen, and it subsequently became a symbol of disgrace. Scientific study of owls is difficult owing to their silent nighttime activity, with the result that the ecology, behaviour, and taxonomy of many species remain poorly understood. Source: britannica.com