Tawny Owl (Strix stridula)
Among the multitudes of Owls there is only room here to make further mention of a few of the more interesting. First must be noticed the Tawny Owlthe Strix stridula of Linnaeus, the type, as have been above said, of the whole group, and speacially of the Strigine section as here understood. This is the Syrnium aluco of some authors, the Chat-huant of the French, the species whose tremulous hooting "tu-whit, to-who," has been celebrated by Shakespeare, and, as well as the plaintive call, "keewick," of the young after leaving the nest, will be familiar sounds to many readers, for the birds is very generally distributed throughout most parts of Europe, extending its range through Asia Minor to Palestine, and also to Barbary-- but not belonging to the Ethiopian or to the eastern half of the Palaearctic. It is the largest of the species indeginous to Britain, and is strictly a woodland bird, only occasionally choosing any other place for its nest than a tree. Its food consists almost entirely of small mammals, chiefly rodents.
But though on its account most deserving of protection from all classes, it is subject to the stupid persecution of the ignorant, and is rapidly declining in numbers.(Footnote 90-2) Its nearest allies in North American are the S. nebulosa, with some kindred forms, one of which, the S. occidentalis of California and Arizona, is figured below; but none of them seem to have the "merry note" that is uttered by the European species.
(90-2) All Owls have the habit of casting up the indigestible parts of the food swallowed in the form of pellets, which may often be found in abundance under the Owl-roost, and reveal without any manner of doubt what the prey of the birds has been. The result in nearly every case shows the enormous service they render to man in destroying rats and mice. Details of many observations to this effect are recorded in the Bericht über die XIV. Versammlung der Deutschen Ornithologen-Gesellschaft (pp. 30-34).
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