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Collector of Souls
πŸ“Έ by @eigi.iwasaki

The glowing red eyes of a stygian owl.

The eyes of most animals will glow when hit with a light source – like a flashlight, or in this case the flash of a camera – this “glow” is caused by the tapetum lucidum, a reflective tissue common in the eyes of animals with night vision far superior to our own.

Because their eyes turn a deep red when illuminated, and your best chance at seeing one is at night, (this photo was surprisingly taken during the day) stygian owls were thought to be harbingers of death, and this myth persists to this day.

The word stygian comes to us via the word styx, as in the river styx of Greek mythology. It is the dividing line between the land of the living and the land of the dead. All souls must cross the river in order to reach the underworld.

But besides their brooding, sentinel-like presence, there is nothing supernatural about these raptors. They like to hunt from a high perch and jump smaller birds, they use their incredible hearing to pick up involuntary movements while their prey are sleeping,Β  pinpointing their location and striking before they know what’s happening.

Stygian owls do not turn into witches or suck the blood of babies, and they are not bad luck or the precursor to immense suffering – unless of course you’re an item on this raptors menu and it just so happens to be feeding time.


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