A cowl is a usually hood-shaped covering used to increase the draft of a chimney and prevent backflow. The cowl, usually made of galvanized iron, is fitted to the chimney pot to prevent wind blowing the smoke back down into the room below.
A secondary function is to prevent birds and squirrels from nesting in the chimney. They often also act as a rain guard to keep rain from going down the chimney. A metal wire mesh is sometimes added as a spark arrestor. Wooden cowls were used on oasts to prevent the ingress of rain into kilns, and create a flow of air through the kiln.