“The Owl and the Mice”


"The owl and the mice lived up in the barn, A dinky dinky doo dum dow; The owl eat(s) mice and the mice eat corn." The song of the owl causes the mice to come out and listen; the owl swoops down and eats them


One of the few folk song I've heard with an almost "ecological" theme. Sadly, it is very rare; Shellans claims to have found another version, but I have been unable to verify this.

It is ironic to note that, of the two creatures in the song, it is not owls but mice that 'sing" (at an inaudibly high pitch, to be sure). Owl calls are in general quite unmusical. And, according to several bird guides (Peterson, National Geographic), the only American owl even faintly likely to roost in a barn is (logically enough) the Barn Owl, found throughout the southern United States. Roger Tory Peterson (_Brids of Eastern and Central North America_, fifth edition, 2002, p. 204) describes its voice as a "shrill rasping hiss or snore, kschhh or shiiish." Not the sort of thing that would lure *me* out of my nice safe hole. - RBW


  1. Shellans, pp. 78-79, The Owl and the Mice"" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #7339
  3. BI, Shel078


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1958 (collected by John Daniel Vass)
Keywords: animal bird trick music food
Found in: US(SE)