Owls are solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They must have been fairly common in the northern parts of Middle-earth in the Third Age, for when the Dwarves sent Bilbo Baggins to spy on the Trolls he was told that if he could not come back he was to "hoot twice like a barn-owl and once like a screech-owl". Thus the Dwarves assumed that Bilbo was familiar with the exact calls that these two types of owls produced. Much later, on the first night with Beorn, Bilbo thought he could hear the hoot of owls in the rafters of the hall.
Portrayal in adaptations
1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:
- Two types of owls are described in a supplement: the barrow owls (a small species, found in Eriador) and the short-eared owls (taught by the Elves to speak and having their own language).