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The GREAT EAGLE-Owl is found throughout most of Europe. It is nearly two feet in length, and five in the expanse of its wings; has a tuft of feathers like horns on either side of its head, and its legs and toes are feathered down to the very claws, which, with the bill, are black; the plumage above is black, waved with yellow; beneath, the ground colour is yellow, with black stripes; and the throat of the male white. It preys on mice, rats, moles, and frogs. In the Orkneys, according to Dr. Neill, it carries off rabbits and moorfowl. It builds in the clefts of rocks or in deserted ruins. Its nest is about three feet across, formed of branches interwoven with roots and twigs, and lined with leaves: the female lays three eggs, round and white. This species sometimes flies abroad during the day.
The LONG-HORNED OWL frequents the extensive woods of Scotland : is in length fourteen and a half inches, and in breadth forty; the bill and claws are black; the body above is of a yellowish-brown colour, with dusky streaks, and freckled with grey and white; beneath, it is of a dull yellow, with brown spots; the horns consist of black feathers, about an inch long, brown and white at the edges: the female has he whole plumage tinged with greyish-white, and a white throat. They breed in evergreen trees, and not unfrequently take possession of the old nests of crows, and lay four or five dull-white eggs.
The SHORT-HORNED OWL is nearly about the same size, but of greater weight than the former: the body is brown above, with the feathers lighter at the edges; beneath, it is of a yellow shade, blending with white on the belly; the
tail is crossed with brown and yellow bars. It breeds in heath, and pursues, in dark weather, pigeons, moorfowl, and plovers, but it feeds likewise on mice and small birds. In the middle districts of Scotland and England it appears, frequenting stubble fields and long grass, but departs in spring
The LITTLE HORNED Owl is only about seven and a half inches in length; has a variegated plumage, brownish above, and greyish beneath ; the horns and head are brown, : with black dots; the feet are naked, the bill black, and the ! eyes yellow. It breeds in rocks, and has two to four eggs, of a white colour.
The SNOWY OWL has no horns, and is a native of the most northern districts. In Europe it is found in the Orkneys, and in America it seems most frequent in Hudson's Bay. It is of equal size with the eagle-owl, but its head is smaller, and the eyes yellow; the bill and claws are strongly curved, and of a deep black colour. The plumage, soft, close, and thick, affording a warm cloak impenetrable to the arctic cold, is white, with streaks of brown, which grow whiter, and at length disappear with age, in the male : in the female, which is rather larger than the male, they never en. tirely fade. This species, the most beautiful of the owl kind, flies quicker, remains longer on the wing, and is more abroad during the day, than any other bird of the family. They are great feeders, neither birds, animals, fishes, nor even carrion, coming amiss to them. Hearne says—“They are so great a hindrance to those employed on the hunting service, that the samne premium is given for one of their heads as for that
of a hawk;” for they will follow the hunter a whole day, and when he has shot a bird, dart down upon the game, and carry it off ere he can reach it. It also frequents the banks of shallow streams, watching for fish, which it seizes with a sudden stroke, and carries off triumphantly, if too large to swallow on the spot, though it is capable of gorging animals of considerable size, such as young rabbits and hares. “It rests generally,” Mr. Edmonstone observes, in his Account of Orkney, “ beneath some strong projection, which shields it from the rays of the sun, and delights in solitary elevations." Their nest is on the ground, where the female lays three or four eggs, though seldom more than two are hatched.
The BARN OWL.—This.well-known species have wide and open ears, long beaks, curved only at the point; their colour above is a pale yellowish-brown, intermingled with greyish streaks and dusky freckles; they are white beneath. They breed in steeples, old ruins, or trees, and have three or four eggs, of a white colour; they also frequent barns, hay-lofts, and out-houses, where they are of great use to the farmer. Seeing better in the dark than any other species, one of them, it is said, will keep a barn more free froin vermin than a dozen cats. When a pair of them have young ones, they sally out alternately, and speedily return with mice for their young. Stewart says, “in general they return every five ininutes with a live mouse," which they skin with great dexterity. The young are easily tamed. But it is far from right to put owls into cages, and place them in the open daylight; for it must hurt their eyes.
THE SALT MINES OF POLAND. At Wielitska, a small town, about eight miles from Cracow, in Poland, is a remarkable salt mine, excavated in a ridge of hills at the northern extremity of the chain which joins to the Carpathian mountains, and has been wrought above 600 years; for they are mentioned in the Polish Annals so early as 1237, under Boleslaus the Chaste, and not then as a new discovery; though how much earlier they were known cannot be ascertained. There are eight openings or descents into this mine, six in the field, and two in the town itself, which are chiefly used for letting down the workmen, and taking up the salt; the others being used for taking in wood and other necessaries. The openings are five feet square, and about four wide; they are lined throughout with timber, and at the top of each of them is a large wheel, with a rope as thick as a cable, by which things are let down and drawn up, and this is worked by a horse.
When a stranger wishes to gratify his curiosity by seeing the works, he must descend by one of these holes ; he is first to put on a miner's coat over his clothes, and being led to the mouth of the hole by a miner, who acts as a guide, the miner fastens a smaller rope to the larger one, and ties it about himself; he sits in this, and taking the stranger in his lap, gives the sign to be let down. When several persons go down together, the custom is, that when the first is let down about three yards the wheel stops, and another miner takes another rope, ties himself, takes another in his lap, and descends about three yards further, the wheel there stops for another pair, and so on till the whole company are seated; then the wheel is again worked, and all the adventurers are lowered down together. It is no uncommon thing for forty people to go down in this manner. When the wheel is finally set agoing, it never stops till they are all down; but the descent is very slow and gradual, and it is a very uncomfortable time, while they all recollect that their lives depend entirely upon the strength of the rope. They are carried down a narrow and dark well, to the depth of 600 feet perpendicular; this is in reality an immense depth, but the terror and tediousness of the descent, inakes it appear to most people vastly more than it is. As soon as the first