Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/331

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317
WAYS OF THE OWL.

"hōō" uttered at intervals of half a minute or more by wild owls in the woods. The common hoot, which suggests to some ears feline music, is generally "hoo-hoo hoo-hǒǒ, hoo-hoo hoo-hōō," but I heard a barred owl this winter in a remote White Mountain valley say "hoo-ǒǒ, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo-ōō." He was a conversational and inquisitive bird. By hiding in some evergreens and hooting to him I drew him little by little to the treetop just above me.

Wholly different is the conversation of the snowy owl. His warning is sometimes beak-snapping, but oftener an open-mouthed, hissing "āh" which has a most menacing quality. He occasionally utters a shrill, whistling scream expressive of pain or the fear of pain, yet he makes it also when snatching a morsel of food held toward him. Thus far I have heard my great-horned owl make but four sounds: terrific beak-snapping; āh-ing quite equal to Snowdon's; a hooting which suggests wind sighing in a hollow tree, and taking the form of "whōō, hoo-hoo-hoo, whōōō, whōōō"; and a series of soft, musical notes, rolled from his throat when Snowdon comes too near his clutched breakfast.

My barred owls eat raw butcher's meat, mice and squirrels, bats, any kind of bird, hawk and crow included, fresh fish, lake PSM V41 D331 Snowdon on a snow covered stump.jpgSnowdon on a Snow-covered Stump. mussels, snakes, turtle-meat, some species of frog, earthworms, some kinds of insects, and hen's or bird's eggs. They will not touch toads or the frogs which secrete an offensive scent. They rarely eat tainted meat or stale fish. Once they played for hours with a dead weasel, much as a cat plays with a mouse, but they did not eat any part of it. They catch living fish from a tank, and kill mice, squirrels, birds, frogs, and snakes; but they were at first greatly alarmed by a turtle, and a young hare running around their cage frightened them almost into fits. Puffy will face and put to flight a cat or a dog, but a pig is a terror to him. When Puffy was only six months old he caught and killed a two-pound pullet, yet in March and April, 1891, he roosted night after night on the same perch, with an old Cochin hen which had begun her stay in his cage by giving him an unmerciful trouncing.

So far as I have been able to ascertain, Snowdon will not kill