Owls Installed in Castle Tower

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


"Alexa" (named in honor of Secretary Emeritus Alexander Wetmore) and "Athena," two barn owls, are installed by Secretary Ripley in the northwest tower of the SI Building. They produce seven young. By December 1975, the last of the owls, Athena, has disappeared. "Barn owls lived in the castle tower for more than 100 years until the mid-1950's when the windows were locked against the unsanitary creatures."


  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building North Towers


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Torch, 6/1977, p. 2
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1974, p. 95

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu





Full Record

View Full Record