Surnia ulula (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i p. 133 (1766) ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. ii. p. 129 ; Newton, Ooth. Wolley. p. 167 ; Dresser, v. p. 301, pl. 311 ; Tacz. F. O. Sib. O. p. 123 ; S. nisoria (Meyer), Ann. Wetter. Gesellsch, i. p. 268 (1809) ; Naum. i. p. 427, Taf. 42. fig. 2 ; S. funerea, Dumeril, Zool. Anal. p. 34 (1806 partim) ; Gould, B. of E. i. pl. 45 ; (id.), B. of Gt. Brit. i. pl. xxvi ; Hewitson, i. p. 65, pl. xviii. fig. 1.
Sperbereule, German ; Hogeugle, Dan. ; Hogugle, Norw. ; Hokuggla, Swed. ; Pigan, Girjelod.de, Lapp. ; Pissi-haukka, Haukkapollo, Finn. ; Jaczebata-Sova, Pol. : Jastrebinaia-Sova, Russ.
Male ad. (Sweden). Head, nape, and upper back dull white and blackish mottled ; rest of the upper parts dark brown, the lower back barred with dull white ; wings brown, the quills spotted and some of the inner secondaries banded with white, the wing-coverts also white spotted; tail pale brown barred with brownish white and tipped with white ; facial disk dull white, on the sides bordered by a crescentic line of black ; throat whitish mottled with brown, the upper breast almost white ; under parts white, narrowly barred with dark brown ; legs and toes thickly feathered ; beak light yellow ; soles yellow; claws blackish brown ; iris bright yellow. Culmen 0.9, wing 8.8, tail 7.0, tarsus 1.0 inch. Sexes alike, but the female is rather darker in colour and larger in size.
Hab. Northern Europe and Asia, as far north as Northern Lapland and Kamchatka ; wandering south in winter to North Germany ; of very rare occurrence in Great Britain ; of accidental occurrence in Western Alaska.
Frequents open places in the woods and plains where trees are scattered about, and in the mountains it is found up to the birch region. It hunts by daylight as well as in the evening, and bright sunshine does not appear to incommode it. Its flight is very Hawk-like and swift, and the bird is by no means shy or even wary. Its food consists of lemmings, mice, &c., and birds even as large as a Willow Grouse, It nests in a hollow tree or in the boxes placed by the natives for the Ducks to lay in, and in May deposits on the bare wood 6 to 8 or even 10 pure white roundish eggs closely resembling those of the Short¬eared Owl, but usually smaller, which measure about 1.52 by 1.13. At its nesting-place this owl is very bold and daring and will often swoop down on and strike any one who attempts to rob its nest. Its cry much resembles that of the Kestrel.
685. Surnia ulula