Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/332

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anything, no matter how hungry he may be. He eats dead birds, mice, squirrels, fish, snakes, mussels, turtles, if opened, and butcher's scraps; but he will make no effort to catch or kill a squirrel, mouse, or snake, although shut up with them while hungry for a day or more. In one instance of this kind he ate a squirrel which he had allowed to live for twelve hours, as soon as it was killed and given to him. I have seen him drink once, and only once. If he bathes, it is a rare occurrence and done secretly. Early one morning in August, 1891, I heard a splashing in the owl's watertank. It was about 3.30 a. m. Creeping to the cage, I peered in. and saw Snowdon shaking himself, as though he had just finished a bath.

His method of eating is suggestive of a carrion-eater. The barred owls are deliberate in their way of treating their food. They search for and crush joints and finny projections. In a frog they feel of every limb from end to end, and crunch away at the joints until they are mellow. They generally pull out the stiff wing and tail feathers, even in quite moderate-sized birds. Small snakes they swallow squirming. Snowdon, on the other hand, ignores live snakes, and his first act with dead food is to swallow it whole if he can possibly distend his throat far enough to let it pass. I have seen the head of a large rooster vanish down his throat bill foremost without his making any effort to crush it. Often a piece of food will stick in his throat and refuse to go down, in spite of vigorous jerks, jumps, and convulsive swallowing. It is then ejected and sometimes dropped altogether. With a large piece of meat or fish his method is different. Standing upon it, he snaps at it viciously and tears off small bits, in eating which he makes a smacking noise. Engaged in this way he is a disgusting spectacle. His head is poked forward, and the feathers upon it seem flattened. The hairy feathers around his beak are drawn back, and his red mouth is open much of the time. If disturbed while eating, he makes his shrill and extremely piercing cry. He is perfectly willing to be fed by hand, snapping at and bolting morsels of liver as fast as they are passed to him. He sometimes eats enormous quantities of food in a short time. He ate the whole of a full-grown bittern in twenty-four hours, and on another occasion a cooper's hawk placed before him at night had only one leg and a few feathers remaining in the morning. Like other owls, he ejects hair and bone pellets from his mouth.

The great-horned owl is not so ready to be fed. He prefers to eat while alone. Mice, however, are too attractive to be refused, and whenever held before him are slowly and quietly taken and swallowed. Other food he usually pretends not to see until I have left him. He seems ready to eat anything that the other owls like. I know that he has bathed at least once this winter, and, judging