679. TAWNY OWL.
Strix stridula, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 153 (1766) ; Newton, i. p. 146 ; S. aluco, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 132 ; Naum. i. p. 473, Taf. 46, 47, fig. 1 ; Hewitson. i. p. 63, pl. xviii. fig. 2 ; (Gould), B. of. E i. pl. 47 ; (id.) B. of. Gt. Brit. i. pl. 24 ; (Dresser), v. p. 271, pl. 306 ; (Sharpe), Cat. B. Br. Mus. ii. p. 247 ; (Saunders), p. 297 ; (Lilford), i. p. 87, pls. 41, 42.
Chouette-hulotte, French ; Coruja do mato, Portug. ; Corabo, Span. ; Allocco, Ital. ; Waldkauz, Germ. ; Boschuil, Dutch ; Katugle, Norw. and Dan. ; Kattuggla, Swed. ; Kissapollo, Finn.
Obiknovennaya-Sova Russ. ; Bu-ru-ru, Arab. ; Lu-Lual, Moor.
Male ad. (England). Crown, neck, and upper parts generally ashy grey, mottled with two shades of brown ; scapulars and larger wing- coverts with a large patch of white on the outer web ; primaries barred with dull white and dark brown ; middle tail-feathers vermiculated and the rest broadly barred with dull blackish brown ; no ear tufts ; the facial disk greyish white with a dark brown marginal line ; under parts greyish white streaked with blackish brown ; legs feathered down to the claws, white slightly marked with brown ; bill light horn becoming yellow at the tip ; iris blue-black ; edge of the eyelid pinkish. Culmen 1.5, wing 10.9, tail 7.2, tarsus 2.0 inch. The female differs only in being rather larger in size.
This owl is subject to two phases of plumage, the one greyish and the other rufous, the latter being, it would seem, rather more common in the north than in the south.
Hab. Europe generally, becoming rarer in the high north and east, but has been met with in Lapland and three or four times in Finland ; North Africa ; occurs in the Kirghese forests but not in Asia further east.
Throughout its range it is a resident, frequenting woods and forests, and is essentially nocturnal in its habits. It feeds on small mammals and birds, large insects and even on fish and frogs, casting up the undigested portions in elongated pellets. Its flight is soft and noiseless, and its call-note is a loud hoot, and in the pairing season a wild laughing cry. It breeds early, selecting for the purpose of nidification a hollow tree, an old ruin, or a disused chimney, occasionally a deserted Rook’s or Crow’s nest, and in March deposits, on a slight bed of dry herbage, 3 to 5 pure white, smooth, roundish eggs, which in size average 1.8 by 1.6.
S. willkouskii (Menzbier), Bull. B. O. Club, vi. p. 4 (1896), from Transcaucasia, of which I have not seen a specimen, is said to differ from the present species in general colour, being darker, in character of markings, and in having the bill white.
679. Strix stridula
679. TAWNY OWL.