In addition to delivering mail, the typical use owls are put to, Hedwig was also a close companion to Harry. She remained one of his closest friends right up to her death during the Battle of the Seven Potters at the height of the Second Wizarding War.
In 1991, Hedwig was kept by the Eeylops Owl Emporium, until she was purchased by Rubeus Hagrid while he was helping Harry Potter get school supplies. She was a birthday present for Harry when he turned eleven. Harry was obviously delighted with his new pet and was very grateful to Hagrid. This was the first birthday present Harry had ever received, as the Dursleys never celebrated his birthday. He very quickly grew attached to her.
Harry decided to name her Hedwig after an individual he saw mentioned in A History of Magic. In the days before arriving for his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry avoided the Dursleys by staying in his room. Hedwig stayed with him during this time, his only friend at 4 Privet Drive.
Throughout her life, she fulfilled the traditional function of an owl by delivering mail for Harry. She spent their first year at Hogwarts fulfilling her duty by getting and sending letters to Rubeus Hagrid and even took ones to Charles Weasley in Romania.
In the summer of 1992, they stayed at the Dursleys in Privet Drive again. Vernon Dursley forced Harry to lock Hedwig in her cage, sometimes for weeks at a time to prevent Harry from sending messages to his "freaky little friends". Hedwig started to grow bored and frustrated, a feeling Harry mirrored. He felt forgotten by his friends and mused that Hedwig was the only proof he had that the wizarding world was real.
When Ron, Fred and George Weasley, arrived to rescue Harry from Privet Drive in the Flying Ford Anglia, he nearly ended up forgetting Hedwig when he was getting into the car. She noticed and hooted, waking Vernon up. Harry had to run to get her and put her in the car too. He later let her out, and Hedwig flew behind the car all the way to The Burrow. In subsequent summers, Hedwig's frustrated hooting convinced the Dursleys to allow Harry to let her out to fly, on the condition that he didn't use her to send messages. However, Harry sometimes ignored this instruction.
In the summer of 1993, she took longer to get back to Privet Drive because she decided to fly to Hermione to get her birthday gift for Harry. On her way back, she had to help Errol get Ron's gift to Harry when he collapsed. She later went back to Hermione to deliver Harry's letter to her, and in her absence he abandoned Privet Drive and went to the Leaky Cauldron. Hedwig was very intelligent, and knew the place she needed to go. She arrived at the pub a few minutes earlier than he did.
In the build-up to the Second Wizarding War, Hedwig was constrained in what she could do for Harry, due to the fact that snowy owls aren't native to Britain, which made her conspicuous; this could potentially raise suspicions if onlookers witnessed a snowy owl always going back and forth from a specific location. A specific instance of this was during Sirius Black's evasion of the Ministry of Magic in 1994. Hedwig was keen to deliver messages, but Harry refused to put her at risk and this led to a minor falling out between them.
In 1995, Hedwig was attacked by associates of Dolores Umbridge in an effort to intercept Harry's mail, requiring Dobby and Professor Grubby-Plank to nurse her back to health. Lavender Brown once admitted to Parvati Patil that she always loved Hedwig and thought her so beautiful. In 1996, Hedwig brought Harry a brand new copy of Advanced Potion-Making from Flourish and Blotts, which was intended as a replacement for the Half-blood prince's copy, but he did not use it nonetheless.
- "No... NO! Hedwig... Hedwig..."
- — Hedwig’s death causes Harry much grief[src]
Hedwig was killed in 1997 during the Battle of the Seven Potters. While aboard Hagrid's flying motorcycle with Harry she was struck by a Killing Curse, possibly aimed at Hagrid or Harry. She was killed instantly and fell like a rag doll to the bottom of her cage. To add insult to the injury of losing his much-loved companion, Harry was then forced to destroy the sidecar containing Hedwig's body in an effort to slow down the pursuing Death Eaters.
Harry was devastated by the loss of Hedwig. His friends were naturally deeply sympathetic and tried to comfort him. Hagrid consoled him by saying that Hedwig had lived "a great old life".
Volunteer wizards and witches of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force could free Hedwig by casting the counter-charm Meteolojinx Recanto to cancel the effects of the wind and have Hedwig's memory return to its rightful place.
Following Hedwig's death, Harry continued to keep a snowy owl to honour her.
Personality and traits
- "Hedwig's large round amber eyes gazed reproachfully at him over the dead frog clamped in her beak... In addition to every other miserable feeling, he now felt guilty that he'd been irritable with Hedwig; she was the only friend at he had at number four, Privet Drive."
- — Hedwig’s displeasure at Harry's treatment of her[src]
Hedwig was a very intelligent, loyal and affectionate companion, and tended to show her affection by gently nibbling Harry's ears or fingers. She also demonstrated that she was fully capable of understanding his wishes and would faithfully follow his orders, such as when he instructed her to find and peck Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger to prompt them to write to him during the summer holidays. Hedwig obeyed Harry's requests and even pecked Ron and Hermione on Harry's orders, in order to get them to write back to him.
Hedwig was a dignified and proud creature and was disapproving of less mature owls such as Ron Weasley's Pigwidgeon. She responded to the hyperactive behaviour she considered inappropriate by staring or hooting reproachfully. She would sometimes show her displeasure physically, turning her back on Harry (showing him her tail), cuffing him with a wing, or even nipping him a little harder than usual if she was offended.
In particular, she seemed disdainful when Harry had to stop using her to deliver messages to Sirius Black to avoid suspicion, which briefly effected their friendship. Hedwig would also make a lot of noise if she was locked in her cage for too long.
Hedwig's intelligence once made her decide to fly to France to get Hermione's thirteenth birthday present to Harry while she was on holiday. Harry relocated to the Leaky Cauldron during Hedwig's journey and she knew. According to Tom the landlord, she arrived five minutes before Harry did.
Further evidence of Hedwig's resourcefulness was found in the fact that she didn't need a specific address to deliver messages - a name alone was sufficient. Hedwig was a keen hunter too and when possible, was allowed to fly outside free and catch food for herself, such as frogs. She would also eat Eeylops Premium Owl Treats.
- Saint Hedwig of Andechs (1174–1243), Duchess of Silesia, who is the patron saint of orphans.
- Saint Hedwig (Jadwiga) (1373–1399), Queen (officially King) of Poland. A St Hedwig's Day dedicated to Hedwig of Andechs has been observed on October 16th every year since she was canonised in 1267.
Behind the scenes
- "I made a few elementary mistakes when it came to my depiction of Hedwig. Firstly, Snowy Owls are diurnal (ie, they fly by day). Secondly, they are virtually mute, so Hedwig’s frequent hoots and chirrups of approval and comfort should be taken as signs of her magically enhanced abilities. Thirdly, as countless well-meaning owl-lovers and experts kept writing to me in the early days, owls do not eat bacon (Hedwig enjoys a bit of bacon rind when she delivers post at breakfast)."
- — J.K. Rowling[src]
- The death of Hedwig symbolised Harry's loss of innocence as he came of age.
- In the Harry Potter novels, J. K. Rowling writes that Hedwig hoots, but, in real life, snowy owls actually bark. The fact was pointed out to Rowling after the publishing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. She admitted her mistake, but decided to leave Hedwig's vocalisation as a hoot in the latter books for continuity.
- In the films, Hedwig is played by Gizmo, and his main stunt replacements, Ook and Sprout. Further owls were Kasper, Swoops, Oh Oh, Elmo and Bandit.
- Since the owls who played Hedwig were almost all male, her appearance in the movies is that of a male snowy owl, not a female one. A female would have much more dark spots (see image at right). The choice of using male owls was because they are smaller and therefore easier for young actors to handle.
- Ook was the first cast member to be chosen for a role in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
- A Hedwig plush is available for purchase at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- Rowling originally intended to make Hedwig open Harry's Golden Snitch in Deathly Hallows. She considers snowy owls to be "the most beautiful owl of all," ergo her choice in Hedwig's colour.
- "Hedwig's Theme" is the musical leitmotif associated with Hedwig. Composed by John Williams, it's percieved by many to be the Main Theme of the Harry Potter films and is featured in some form or another in many other tracks throughout the franchise.
- A deleted scene in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets shows Harry asking Hedwig "Who am I, Hedwig? What am I?" after he learns that he is able to speak Parseltongue.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry arrives at the Leaky Cauldron Tom the barman refers to Hedwig as 'he'.
- Hedwig appears as a playable character in the console versions of the Prisoner of Azkaban video game.
- In the the first part of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hedwig dies when she tries to protect Harry and Hagrid from the Death Eater's attacks, being hit with a killing curse and her lifeless body spiralled down to the ground and all Harry could do was watch in grief. Hedwig was allowed to fly free behind Harry during the sequence, and her attempt to protect Harry and Hagrid was key in allowing the Death Eaters to identify him as the real Harry Potter. Her death in the film contradicts her death in the book, where she was killed by a stray Killing Curse whilst kept in her cage.
- In the Harry Potter Trading Card Game, Hedwig is listed as a Gryffindor. No other creatures (excluding the house emblems) have Hogwarts houses in the game, not even Scabbers, who actually attended Hogwarts and was sorted into Gryffindor.
- On 17 August, 2009, The Telegraph reports that a new series of mysterious crop-circles (patterns cut in farmers fields) have appeared on that summer in fields in Wiltshire, and the most recent is the 400 foot pattern, they wrote it as a tribute to the late Hedwig from the Harry Potter series.
- The site Mugglenet.com released a book titled MuggleNet.com's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love and How Will the Adventure Finally End? In the book, they gave odds as to which characters would live and which would be killed off, but did not include odds for Hedwig. After the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, they posted the results of the odds on their website, and also listed Hedwig with 1/1000 and the note "Just kidding."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Listed during credits)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Listed during credits)
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Creator: Harry Potter
- LEGO Dimensions
- LEGO Harry Potter
- LEGO Brickheadz: Harry Potter
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (Mentioned in History of Magic classes)
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 4 (The Seven Potters)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 3 (The Invitation) - "The first thing he saw was that Hedwig was back. She was sitting in her cage, staring at Harry with her enormous amber eyes, and clicking her beak in the way that meant she was annoyed about something."
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3 (The Advance Guard) - "Hedwig's large round amber eyes gazed reproachfully at him over the dead frog clamped in her beak."
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 3 (Will and Won't) - "Her amber eyes surveyed the room imperiously, her head swivelling occasionally to gaze at her snoring master."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 13 (Detention with Dolores)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 17 (Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 11 (Hermione's Helping Hand)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 5 (Fallen Warrior)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 5 (The Order of the Phoenix)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 3 (The Invitation)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 3 (The Advance Guard)
- J.K. Rowling Official Site - F.A.Q. (archived via Wayback Machine)
- Bloomsbury Live Chat
- Meet Gary Gero, Animal Trainer for Two Harry Potter Movies
- First Movie Trivia
- Ook on Portuguese Wikipedia
- "Hedwig: Owl of a Different Fate?" on the Harry, A History site
- Movie-Censorship.com - Comparison - Theatrical Version / Ultimate Edition - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Who Cast the Owl Crop Circle Spell?
- Deathly Hallows Scorecard- Mugglenet (via the Internet Archive)