Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/340

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proves to be a crow or a swift he gives it merely a glance and looks away. The barred owls frequently look at the sun with their eyes half-closed for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. Why they do it I am wholly at a loss to explain. I am in doubt as to how much Puffy can see at night. I once held a cat within a few inches of him in the darkness,and he did not stir. Had he seen it he would certainly have moved and probably snapped his beak. In August, 1891, I let him out after dark on a patch of closely cropped where the dim light enabled me to see him when he moved. I went to the nearest tree and seated myself with my back against its trunk and my legs stretched out before me. Half an hour passed. Puffy scarcely moving except when a bat flew over him, and I keeping perfectly motionless. At last he came toward me, slowly, a yard or two at a time. When he was within a few feet I could see his outline quite plainly. One more hop brought him to my knee, upon which he jumped. Instantly he bounded into the air and made off, unmistakably frightened. He had no idea that he was going to strike a leg and not a log: yet if his eyes had been much keener than a man's he would have seen not only that my clothes were not wood, but that I was leaning against the tree-trunk watching him. In several instances I have called wild barred owls at night and have had them alight in tree-tops close above me. I could see them against the sky, but apparently they could not see me sitting among the brakes and bushes below them. Once with an owl thus above me I imitated the squeaking cry of a wounded bird. I wished I had not, for the owl’s ghostly wings brushed past my face so chisely that I fell back into the bushes, fearing that he would strike at me again.

The memory of my owls is noticeably good. Puffy and Fluffy, the two barred owls which I have had longest, remember their favorite perches from season to season, and resume their chosen roosts after months of absence. In one instance Fluffy, on his return to Cambridge after four months in the mountains, flew the length of the cellar, expecting to strike a perch which had been removed, and, failing to find it, fell to the floor. It is only necessary for me to bring a box-trap into the barn for Puffy to come to the front of his cage, eager to be given a chance to catch the chipmunk which past experience leads him to believe is in it. Similar eagerness is shown in winter, when I bring a paper parcel into the cellar, the owls knowing so well that it contains food that they will tear it open themselves if I do not open it for them. If the bundle is brought in without their knowledge and thrown at random upon the floor, they do not find it, and will leave it for days untouched. Puffy does not like going out in my boat. If he finds that I am taking him to the shore near it, he invariably jumps off his stick and tries to hide in the bushes. Snowdon