(Strix Otus, Linn.—Le Hibou, Buff.)
LENGTH fourteen inches; breadth about three feet. The bill is black; irides bright yellow; the radiated circle round each eye is of a light cream colour, in some parts tinged with red; between the bill and the eye there is a circular streak of dark brown; another circle of dark rusty brown entirely surrounds the face; its ear tufts consist of six feathers, closely laid together, of a dark brown, tipped and edged with yellow; the upper part of the body is beautifully penciled with fine streaks of white, rusty, and brown; the breast and neck are yellow, finely marked with dusky streaks, pointing downwards; the belly, thighs, and vent feathers of a light cream colour: there are four or five large white spots upon each wing; the quill and tail feathers are marked with dusky and reddish bars: the legs are feathered down to the claws, which are very sharp; the outer claw is moveable, and may be turned backwards.
This bird is common in various parts of Europe, as well as in this country; its usual haunts are in old ruined buildings, in rocks, and in hollow trees. Buffon observes, that it seldom constructs a nest of its own, but not unfrequently occupies that of the Magpie: it lays four or five white eggs, rounded at the ends; the young are at first white, but acquire their natural colour in about fifteen days.
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