Of the night-owl ‘I am like the night-owl in its dwelling-place’ (BSV, Psalmi, 101:7; NEB, Psalms, 102:6). The night-owl is a bird that loves the darkness of the night. It lives in decaying walls because it sets up house in the ruins of roofless dwellings. It shuns the light, flying at night in search of food. In a mystic sense, the night-owl signifies Christ. Christ loves the darkness of night because he does not want sinners – who are represented by darkness – to die but to be converted and live (see Ezekiel, 18:32). For God the father so loved the world that he gave his son to death for the redemption of the world (see John, 3:16-17). That sinners are called ‘darkness’, is borne out by the apostle, saying: ‘For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord’ (Ephesians, 5:8). The night-owl lives in the cracks in walls, as Christ wished to be born one of the Jewish people, saying: ‘I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew, 15:24). But Christ is crushed in the cracks of the walls, because he is killed by the Jews. Christ shuns the light in the sense that he detests and hates vainglory. For when he cared for a leper, in order to give us a lesson in humility, he said to the leper: ‘See thou tell no man’ (Matthew, 8:4). Of this light it is said: ‘And from the wicked their light is witholden’ (Job, 38:15), that is, the glory of present life. He himself is the light inaccessible ‘which lighteth every man’ (John, 1:9). The light, therefore, shuns the light, that is, the truth shuns the vanity of worldly glory.
The night-owl flies at night in search of food, as Christ converts sinners into the body of the Church by preaching. In a moral sense, moreover, the night-owl signifies to us not just any righteous man, but rather one who lives among other men yet hides from their view as much as possible. He flees from the light, in the sense that he does not look for the glory of human praise. It is said of this light: ‘Will the light of the wicked not be put out, and the spark of his fire not shine?’ (see Job, 17:5). ‘Light’ here signifies the prosperity of present life. The light of the wicked is extinguished, in the sense that the prosperity of our fleeting life ends with life itself. Will the flame of his fire not shine? ‘Fire’ here is the passion of temporal desires. Its flame is the splendour or outward show of power which comes from its inner fire. But it will not shine because on the day of death all outward splendour and power will perish. The night-owl keeps watch in the night, as when the righteous man, alert to the darkness of sinners, avoids their errors. It lives in the cracks of walls, in the sense that he considers the weakness of the world and awaits its downfall. It seeks food by night, as when he reflects upon the life of sinners and uses their example to nourish the mind of the righteous.
The owl is not visited until Folio 50, which also sees the Hoopoe and Night Owl written about again.