Page:Summer - from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau.djvu/381

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371
SUMMER.

santly mewing, I found myself suddenly within a rod of a gray screech-owl, sitting on an alder bough, with horns erect, turning its head from side to side, and up and down, and peering at me in that same ludicrously solemn and complacent way that I had noticed in one in captivity. Another, more red, also horned, repeated the same warning sound, an apparent call to its young, about the same distance off, in another direction, on an alder. When they took to flight, they made some noise with their wings. With their short tails and squat figures they looked very clumsy, all head and shoulders. Hearing a fluttering under the alders, I drew near and found a young owl, a third smaller than the red, all gray, without obvious horns, only four or five feet distant. It flitted along two rods, and I followed it. I saw at least two or more young. . . . These birds kept opening their eyes when I moved, as if to get a clearer sight of me. The young were very quick to notice any motion of the old, and so betrayed their return by looking in that direction when they returned, though I had not heard it. Though they permitted me to come near with so much noise, as if bereft of half their senses, they at once noticed the coming and going of the old birds, even when I did not. There were four or five owls in all. I have heard a some-