Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/333

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

"by his plumage, lie uses water freely. When given a cod's head or a large bird, he stands upon it and tears off morsels much as Snowdon does. His motions in doing this are sudden and his whole expression fierce and tiger-like. With horns slightly flattened and eyes glaring, he first plucks a piece of flesh from the carcass and then turns his head sharply from side to side to see whether any other owl dares to intrude upon his repast. My

PSM V41 D333 Snowdon puffy and great horned owls.jpg
Snowdon. Puffy. Great-horned.

barred, snowy, and great-horned owls all feed freely in the daytime. My screech-owls, on the contrary, usually waited until dark before devouring their food. One of them apparently ignored a live English sparrow for several hours while daylight lasted and the sparrow was able to see him, but when night came the sparrow was speedily caught, plucked, and eaten.

The feeling with which other birds regard an owl seems to be a mixture of curiosity, hatred, and fear. Curiosity impels them to approach, hatred causes them to make violent and abusive cries, while fear inclines them to wariness and prevents them from open attack upon their sphinx-like enemy. This feeling of the birds is general, almost universal, and is shared in a modified form by the smaller owls when brought in contact with large ones. To the chickadee or the warbler it makes no difference whether an owl is large or small; he is an owl, and that prompts inspection and vituperation. In several instances I have found Acadian owls in the woods in consequence of the racket made by birds scolding them. This winter, on the day after Christmas, I was walking through a spruce thicket in Albany, N. H., when the noise of nuthatches, Hudson Bay and black-capped titmice