Screech Owl (Aluco flammeus)
Finally, we have Owls of the second section, those allied to the Screech-Owl, Aluco flammeus, the Effraie (Footnote 91-2) of the French. This, with its discordant scream, its snoring and its hissing , is far well known to need description, for it is one of the most widely-spread of birds, and is the Owl that has the greatest geographical range, inhabiting almost every country in the world, -- Sweden and Norway, America north of lat. 45º, and New Zealand being the principal exceptions. It varies, however, not considerably, both in size and intensity of colour, and several ornithologists have tried to found on these variations more than a half a dozen distinct species. Some, if not most of them, seem, however, hardly worthy to be considered geographical races, of their differences to not always depend on locality. Mr Sharpe, with much labour and in great detail, has given his reasons (Cat. B. Brit. Museum, ii. pp. 1-21) for acknowledging four "subspecies" of A. flammeus, as well as five other species. Of these last, A. tenebricosus is peculiar to Australia, while A. novae-hollandiae inhabitants also New Guinea, and has a "subspecies," A. catanops, found only in Tasmania; a third, A. candidus, has a wide range from Fiji and northern Australia through the Philippines and Formosa to China, Burmah, and India; a fourth, A. capensis, is a peculiar to South Africa; while A. thomcusis is said to be confined to be African island of St Thomas. To these may perhaps have to be added a species from New Britain, described by Count Salvadori as Strix aurantia, but it may possibly prove on further investigation not to be an Alucine Owl at all. (A. N.)
(2) Through the dialectic forms Fresaie and Presaie, the origin of the word is easily traced to the Latin praesaga -- a bird of bad omen; but it has also been confounded with Orfraie, a name of the OSPREY (vide supra, p. 56).
The above article was written by: Alfred Newton, M.A., F.R.S.; Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, University of Cambridge; late Chairman of Brit. Assoc. Migration of Birds Committee; President of the Cambridge Philosophical Society; author of Ornithology of Iceland and A Dictionary of Birds; edited The Ibis, 1865-70 and The Zoological Record, 1870-72.
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