The ability "Possess Owls" is likely inspired by early English legends and associations regarding owls. In English literature the owl had a sinister reputation. The owl is a nocturnal animal and thus associated with darkness, and darkness in turn was associated with death.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the poets Robert Blair and William Wordsworth used the Barn Owl as their favourite "bird of doom." During that same period many people believed that the screech or call of an Owl flying past the window of a sick person meant imminent death.