Image from page 350 of "Britain's birds and their nests" (1910)
Publisher: London : W. & R. Chambers
Contributing Library: American Museum of Natural History Library
Digitizing Sponsor: Biodiversity Heritage Library
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ornered and aroused in the daytime, it emits ahissing sound, snaps the bill violently and loudly, anderects its feathers all over its body. Other kinds behavevery similarly. White-Owl is quite an appropriate name for thisbird, for it is typically very much lighter in general tonethan the other Owls we have to deal with. As is usualwith Owls, there is no plumage variation with either sexor season, and very little with age. As in some otherspecies, however, two phases occur quite irrespective ofthese factors. The one most common in the British Isleshas the upper-parts predominantly orange-tawny, thefacial disc white with a dark rim. The other is muchdarker altogether, and has buff-tinted under-parts and achestnut tinge on the face. Luminous Owls were recently a subject of discussionin the Press, examples showing a sort of phosphorescentlight on their plumage being recorded from severaldistricts. Many wild theories as to the origin andpossible use of this luminosity were put forward. One
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Plate 6i. TAWNY OR BROWN 0\NL—Syrnium aluco. Length, 15 in. ; wing, 10 in. [Striges : StrigidcC.] Y 198 BRITAINS BIRDS AND THEIR NESTS. 199 of the few rational explanations is that the light wasdue to phosphorescent bacteria from decaying wood havingbeen fortuitously transferred to the Owls plumage. THE TAWNY OR BROWN OWL (Syrnium aluco). Plate 61. The Tawny, Brown, or Wood Owl, as it is variouslycalled, is slightly the largest of our native Owls, andrepresents a somewhat different branch of the Order fromthat to which the Barn-Owl belongs. But the subdivisionof the Owls is a difficult question, and the differencesbetween the minor groups are not of a kind that concernsthe general reader. The most noticeable difference betweenthe two birds is in their plumage, the Tawny OwPs beingof the mottled brown type which is more characteristic ofthe Order. In it there are also two phases, one with arufous and one with a grayish tendency, the former beingthe predominant variety in our islands.
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