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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Short Eared Owls and those Victorians

I have a thing about old/antiquarian books... in fact, books full stop!


"The Short-eared Owl is most generally known in England as an autumnal migrant; but a few pairs still breed in certain fens and moorlands in our country, which, in the interest of the bird, I refrain from Specifying; in certain parts of Scotland and its adjacent islands it nests commonly and is very frequently met with in Ireland in winter. The habits of this Owl differ from those of almost all other species of its family in the fact that the present bird is eminently terrestrial, seldom alighting on trees, and preferring open country with covert of heath, fern or sedge. We often meet with this Owl in turnip-fields or rough pasturelands in the midlands towards the end of October, sometimes in considerable numbers, but as a rule, singly or in couples; in West Norfolk at the same season, I have more than once seen a dozen or more during a day's shooting.

The Short-eared Owl is a very powerful flyer, and, as he often hunts not only by daylight, but in bright sunny weather, it is evident that his vision is better adapted for diurnal operations than is the case with our other British Owls. The nest of his bird when situated on dry heatht-lands is merely a scraping of the earth, but in the fens the eggs are often laid upon a few pieces of broken reed-stems, with occasionally a few leaves of that plant, or blades of broad sedge; the eggs are pure white, and vary in number from four to six. This is one of the most useful of birds, as its favourite prey are the noxious voles that invest our low-lying lands."

Birds of the British Islands

Lord Lilford FZS etc
President of the British Ornithology Union 

1885–1897

There was a page on the Black Kite and how just one had been found in Northumbria... "now in the Newcastle Museum" !!! Clearly someone had shot it... don't you just love the Victorians!

1 comment:

Christian said...

Noxious voles! Ha ha.