1902 Encyclopedia > Owl > S. cinerea or S. lapponica. Eagle, Snowy, Horned & Woodcock Owls.

(Part 4)

S. cinerea or S. lapponica. Eagle, Snowy, Horned and Woodcock Owls.

Common to the most northerly forest-tracts of both continents (for, though a slight difference of coloration is observable between American examples and those from the Old World, it is impossible to consider it specific) is the much larger S. cinerea or S. lapponica, whose iron-grey plumage, delicately mottled with dark brown, and the concentric circles of its facial discs make it one of the most remarkable of the group.

Then may be noticed the genus Bubo -- containing several species which from their size are usually known as Eagle-Owls. Here the Nearctic and Palaerctic forms are sufficiently distinct—the latter, B. ignavus, (Footnote 90-2) the Duc or Grand Duc of the French, ranging over the whole of Europe and Asia north of the Himalayas, while the former, B. virginianus extends over the whole of North America.

A contrast to a generally somber colour of these birds is shown by the Snowy Owl, Nyctea scandiaca, a circumpolar species, and the only one of its genus, which disdains the shelter of forests and braves the most rigorous arctic climate, though compelled to migrate southward in winter when no sustenance is left for it. Its large size and white plumage, more or less mottled with black, distinguish this from every other Owl.

Then may be mentioned the birds commonly known in English as "Horned" Owls -- the Hibous of the French, belonging to the genus Asio. One, A. otus (the otus vulgaris of some authors), inhabits woods, and, distinguished by its long tufts, usually born erected, would seem to be common to both America and Europe -- though experts profess their ability to distinguish between examples from each country.

Another species, A. accipitrinus (the Otus brachyotus of many authors), has much shorter tufts on its head, and they are frequently carried depressed so as to escape obervation. This is the "Woodcock-Owl" of English sportsmen, for, though a good many are bred in Great Britain, the majority arrive in autumn from Scandinavia, just about the time that the immigration of Woodcocks occurs. This species frequents heaths, moors, and the open country generally, to the exclusion of woods, and has an enormous geographical range, including not only all Europe, North Africa, and northern Asia, but the whole of America, --reaching also the Falklands, the Galapagos, and the Sandwich Islands,--for the attempt to separate specifically examples from those localities only shews that they possess more or less well-defined local races.


(90-3) This species bears confinement very well, and propagates freely therein. To it belong the historic Owls of Arundel Castle.

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