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BIRDS OF PREY-Continued, .
VULTURES AND OWLS.
Scale of Feet.
1. Secretary Vulture, Gypogeranus serpentarius. 2. Turkey Buzzard, Cathartes aura. 3. Carrion Crow, Cathartes atratus. 4. Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus. 5. Condor, Sarcoramphus gryphus. 6. Bearded Vulture, Gypæetus barbatus. 7. California Vulture, Cathartes Californianus.
1. THE VULTURES are, on the whole, considerably larger than the falcon birds, but they are much less courageous. Most of them, unlike the falcons, feed on putrid flesh; and they are generally protected by the natives of the countries which they inhabit, on account of their utility1 in disposing of decayed animal remains.
2. The beak of these birds is long and curved, but not notched; and the talons, not being required to tear living animals, are comparatively weak; but in order that the parts of the bird which come in contact with its offensive food may not become soiled or matted, most of the head is naked; and the legs, at the lowest parts, are covered with scales, and not
with feathers as in the eagle. The wings are strong and large, and the general plumage uncommonly thick and coarse.
3. Among the vultures of the western continent may be mentioned the condor of South America, which is five feet in length, and the expanse of its wings fourteen; the California vulture, but little less in size than the condor; the well known turkey buzzard of our southern states; and also the black vulture, or carrion crow of the south, which is found in the streets of cities, where it is protected, being regarded as a kind of scavenger2 whose labors are subservient3 to the public good.
4. The Egyptian vulture, sometimes called Pharaoh's chicken, is abundant in Spain and on the opposite African shores. The secretary vulture, found in Southern Africa, is a very curious-looking bird, which feeds exclusively upon reptiles and serpents. The bearded vulture, or vulture of the Alps, which approaches the character of the falcons in frequently seizing live animals for its prey, is about four feet in length, and the largest bird of Europe.
"Among the barren Alpine cliffs the bearded vulture dwells,
Scale of Feet.
1. Virginia Horned Owl, Bubo Virginianus. 2. Little Screech Owl, Bubo Asio. 3. Great Horned Owl, or Eagle Owl, Bubo maximus. 4. Great Snowy Owl, Surnia nyctea. 5. Hawk Owl, or Barn Owl, Strix Americana.
5. The OWLS, which also belong to the birds of prey, are a
very numerous family, and some of them are found in all quarters of the globe. They feed on birds, small quadrupeds, and insects, and some species on fish. Those most common in this country are the barred owl, which is about eighteen inches in length; the little sparrow owl; the great northern white owl, or snowy owl; the white or barn owl; and the Virginia horned owl. The latter, found in almost every part of the United States, is the one whose mournful hoo, hoo, hoo-e is so often heard in the night season. The eagle owl inhabits the great forests of Europe.
6. The owls are mostly noctural' in their habits, remaining concealed by daylight, and coming forth at night in pursuit of their prey. Their abodes are usually deep forests, old ruins, and hollow trees; and this circumstance, connected with the grotesques appearance of their shaggy heads and large round eyes, their noiseless flight, the dismal hootings of some, and frightful screechings of others, as heard in the silence and gloom of night, have caused them to be regarded, by the ignorant of all countries, with a kind of superstitious dread. The poets have indulged freely in this general prejudice; and in their descriptions of midnight storms and gloomy scenes of nature, the owl is generally introduced to heighten the horror of the picture.
7. "In the hollow tree, in the old gray tower, The spectral owl doth dwell;
Dull, hated, despised in the sunshine hour,
But at dusk he's abroad and well!
Not a bird of the forest e'er mates with him-
But at night, when the woods grow still and dim,
"So, when the night falls, and the dogs do howl,
We know not alway
Who are kings by day,
But the king of the night is the bold brown owl!"
14 NOC-TUR'-NAL, pertaining to the night.
2 SCAV'-EN-GER, one who cleans the streets 5 GRO-TESQUE', oddly formed; uncouth. of a city. 6 SU-PER-STI"-TIOUS, full of idle fancies in religious matters.
3 SUB-SERV'-I-ENT, conducive.
SONG OF THE OWL.
1. Tu whit! tu whoo!-in my ancient hall, In my old gray turret1 high,
Where the moss is thick on the crumbling wall, A king-a king reign I!
2. The ivy-vines in the chink that grow, Come clambering up to me;
And the newt,2 the bat, and the toad, I trow,
A right merry band are we.
Oh, the coffined monks in their cells below
3. Let them joy in their brilliant sunlit skies,
But softer by far than the tints they prize,
Oh, a weary thing to an owlet's eyes
4. When the sweet dew sleeps in the midnight cool,
And the toad leaps up on her throne-shaped stool,
While the bullfrog croaks o'er his stagnant pool,
5. As the last lone ray from the hamlet fades In the dark and still profound,
The night-bird sings in the cloister shades,
And fairies trip o'er the broad green glades,
6. Tu whit! tu whoo! All the livelong night
While the starry ones from their azure height
They may bask who will in the noonday light,
1 TUR'-RET, a little tower; a spire rising 5 GAR'-ISH (or gair'-ish), dazzling; gaudy. from a building.
2 NEWT, a small lizard.
6 HAM'-LET, small village.
7 ELOIS'-TER, a house inhabited by monks or
3 TROW, think; believe.
4 MONK, one who retires from the world, 8 GLĀDES, open places in forests. and devotes himself to religion.
19 BASK, to lie in warmth; be at ease.