Cornish Owlman: Everything you need to know

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The Cornish Owlman was first seen in Mawnan Smith in the 1970s. NIA JONES reveals its strange legend.

An illustration of the Cornish Owlman of Mawnan.
An illustration of the Cornish Owlman of Mawnan.

With sightings as far back as 1976 and as recent as 2011, reports of  an Owlman stalking and terrifying a rural Cornwall village churchyard and woods after dark draws many parallels with the folk law of The Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a story that inspired the 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies.

The Owlman Of Mawnan or The Death Raptor, has been described as a grey/dark brown feathered, 5 to 6 feet tall creature, its feet clawed with hybrid owl/humanlike features. With a wingspan of approximately 10 feet, a loud hissing / screeching noise accompanies the spectre, its large eyes glow a fiery crimson.

The first sighting of the Owlman took place on April 17, 1976, June and Vicky Melling (aged 9 and 12) and their family were on their Easter break in Mawnan Smith, they saw a “bird man” hovering over the tower of Mawnan Old Church.

Running to the police station the girls were taken into different rooms and independently drew a similar image of what they saw. So frightened by their encounter the family cut short their holiday.

The spring weather in Cornwall was unusual that year, cold snaps and then heat waves.

There was a spate of UFO sightings and animals behaved oddly; there were feral cats and more dog attacks than usual.

It has been debated whether Mawnan Church is actually built on a ley line, (a line that links several ancient sites) and the appearance of the Cornish Owlman may be a product of the earth’s energy.

Others have speculated the creature was invoked by occult rituals from as far back as 1937.

Dictating similar qualities to The Mothman legend, the similarities stop when it comes to creatures supposed intentions.

The Mothman has been perceived as some kind of omen for a disastrous event (like the Silver Bridge collapse in 1967), but the Owlman is seen as a malevolent entity, possibly a manifestation of a demonic Phoenician owl god, whose worshippers were known to sacrifice children as offerings.

Gallery of Mawnan Churchyard, sighting place of the Cornish Ownlman

These photographs were taken in December 2018.

Witnesses describe Cornish Owlman of Mawnan

The witnesses of the second sighting saw the Cornish Owlman standing on a branch in a large pine tree, believing it was a local playing a prank by dressing in a costume.

They were shocked when the creature leaped into the air and flew away into the night.

There was also crackling or static noise resonating through the woodland trees after it flew away.

There have been numerous and varying sightings since, including strange red lights spotted above the church.

There is no doubt that encountering this creature invokes genuine fear. But can there be a rational explanation?

Was it mass hysteria?

Was it an escaped aviary bird rather than a supernatural humanoid?

Some have also suggested that the whole Owlman story was a clever hoax created as a counterpart to The Mothman of Point Pleasant.

So does the Cornish Owlman exist?

Whatever the answer I am very sure no one would offer to wait around in Mawnan Smith Churchyard woods after dark to find out.

Visit to Mawnan Churchyard by Spooky Isles

Here is a video that was filmed by Spooky Isles in December 2018. There was no Cornish Owlman to be seen, but it is clearly a very interesting and spooky graveyard to visit!

Have you ever been to Mawnan Church in Cornwall? Did you see or feel anything strange? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!


  1. there is n o police station to run to In the village hamlet of Mawnan, nearest is in Falmouth several miles away thus children could not have run to police station unless they were very fit juvenile marathon runners. Mawnan church is built upon an ancient bronze or iron age earthworks. The whole area was well inhabited in ancient times as it is adjacent to the Helford estuary whereby traders came to trade goods for tin and other metals

  2. I seen him. Yesterday before I fell faint. I was walking to town(I live right outside of town)
    I was furious, I was upset with my mom. So I was walking to her work, mind you, I have never seen or heard of this until tonight. As I walked I was half way there when this thing was in the corner of my eye, it was black and tall. It’s face was white, almost like a mask over its odd black “hair or feathers.” The “mask” looked like an owl. I stopped and looked at it, it stained at me for a couple seconds. I wasn’t scared due to I’ve seen these things since I could remember. But then it disappeared. I turned around and said “leave me alone.” I was still mad, I kept walking then it showed up again and I asked “what do you want?” It’s head turned slightly as it looked at me with the gapping black holes for eyes. I ignored it and kept walking. That whole trip was fuelled by anger.
    The next morning I fell on my bedroom floor faint. Then I told my boyfriend and he said it sounded like this so called “owl man”. I didn’t believe him, I saw this as creppypasta bull crap. Then I did more research on this, so say “will grant you a wish to those who are willing to kill a loved one…” this scared me. I could never harm my mother, but hearing that and seeing as the only time I saw him I was furiously angry. It scares me why I seen him in the first place…


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