Water Birds, Game Birds and Birds of Prey

By Chester A. Reed

Order 12


Order Raptores



Family Cathartidæ


325. Cathartes aura septentrionalis. 30 in.

Head naked; red or carmine: bill dull whitish; eyes brown; feet pinkish. Plumage blackish-brown.

Nest. Their two eggs are laid upon the ground, between rocks, under logs, or in hollow trees; they are whitish, handsomely blotched with brown.

Range. Breeds from the Gulf north to New Jersey, Illinois, Minnesota and British Columbia.



326. Catharista urubu. 24 in.

Entire plumage, including the naked head, black; feet and tip of bill yellowish. Under surface of the wings white, making it very easy to identify.

Nest. Two eggs, greenish-white, blotched with brownish. (3.00x2.00).

Range. Resident north to North Carolina, southern Illinois and Kansas.


Family Falconidæ


327. Elanoides forficatus. 24 in.

Tail long and deeply forked; plumage white, and glossy black; feet short but stout; bill black, with cere and feet bluish-gray. The flight of these birds is very swift and swallow-like; at times they circle about for long periods, on motionless wings; at others, they will be seen swooping over marshes and low ground; the evolutions they perform during the mating season are wonderful to behold, floating, sailing, doubling and turning, in all imaginable positions, as though they were a part of the air itself.

Notes. A shrill whistled " peet-peet."

Nest. Composed of twigs, lined with moss and rootlets; usually located in the tops of trees at great heights; 90 to 125 feet from the ground not being uncommon; eggs pale bluish-white, very handsomely marked with brown. (1.85x1.5).

Range. Breeds north to Virginia, Manitoba and Minnesota; winters south of the United States.


328. Elanus Icucnrus. 10 in.

Head, underparts and tail, white: shoulders black: upperparts gray. Young, with the back tinged with rusty. Their food consists largely of snakes, but they also eat a great many small rodents and insects.

Nest. Made of sticks, weeds and leaves, and placed in trees at quite an elevation from the ground; eggs creamy white, profusely blotched with brown.

Range. Texas to central California, and less often east of the Miss. River, north to South Carolina.



329. Ictinia mississippiensis. 14 in.

Head, underparts and ends of secondaries, bluish-gray. Lores and tail black: back dark; eyes red.

Nest. Of sticks and weeds in the tops of tall trees; eggs bluish white, usually unmarked, but occasionally with a few brownish specks. (1.65x1.25).

Range. Breeds north to South Carolina, southern Illinois and Kansas; winters south of the United States.


330. Rostrhamus sociabilis. 15 in.

Bill very slender and much hooked, the lower mandible being decurved somewhat, to match the upper; the cutting edge of the bill without a tooth or notch, as most hawks and kites have. Lores naked and yellowish, like the cere; eyes red. Plumage blackish; rump and bases of outer tail feathers, as well as tip white. This tropical species is found in the United States, only in the southern half of Florida, in the densest swamps, being fairly abundant in the Everglades. They are said to feed exclusively upon a certain species of water snail, and each bird has a particular perch to which he takes every snail he captures, and after skillfully extracting the animal with its curiously modified beak, it drops the shell on the mound beneath. (Bendire).

Nest. Of twigs, lined with leaves and weeds, placed at low elevations in bushes or underbrush, often over water; eggs pale greenish-white, spotted with brown.

Range. Southern Florida.


331. Circus hudsonius. 19 in.

Upper tail coverts and base of tail white. Male, blue-gray above; below whitish, streaked and barred with rusty. Female and young. Above rusty brownish-black; below rusty with dusky streaks on the breast and sides. As shown by its name, this hawk is found most abundantly in or around marshes or wet meadows. I have found them especially abundant in boggy marshes such as frequented by bitterns. Their flight is quiet and owl-like, and as they do most of their feeding toward dusk, they often seem like owls as they flit by without a sound. Their food is composed chiefly of meadow mice and moles, which they spy and dash own upon as they fly at low elevations.

Notes. A shrill whistle when their nest is approached.

Nest. Of grasses, on the ground in marshes; four plain bluish-white eggs. (1-80x1.40); May, June.

Range. Breeds locally in the whole of the United States and Canada, north to Hudson Bay; winters in the southern half of the United States.


332. Accipiter velox. 12 in.

This little hawk, so near like the Cooper, is one of the most active of the family, and from this fact it gets its name velox, meaning swift. It is often seen in woods, orchard, or even about buildings in large cities, in which latter places, it does good service in catching English Sparrows. If they would confine their food to these birds, no one would object, but unfortunately they will take any little bird that comes within their reach, or that they are able to catch. They are one of the very few hawks that do live largely upon birds, and even they destroy a great many mice.

Notes. A shrill, three-syllabled whistle.

Nest. A rude and usually frail structure of twigs, placed in branches of trees, usually at quite low elevations (15 ft.). Eggs white, beautifully blotched with brown. (1,45x1.15).

Range. Breeds chiefly in northern U. S. and Canada; winters throughout the United States.


333. Accipiter cooperi. 16 in.

This hawk is a large edition of the last species. All hawks vary in size, this one and the last, perhaps, more than any others. Female hawks are always the largest. A large female of the Sharp-shinned variety. is often as large as a small male Cooper, but the crown of the Cooper is darker than that of the Sharpshinned, and his tail is always rounded, while that of the last species is nearly square at the end. This is also a destructive species; it is usually one of these two hawks, or the Goshawk, that is responsible for the ill-feeling with which farmers regard all of the family. All small hawks are known to farmers as " Chicken Hawks," and large ones as " Hen Hawks," but the majority of our hawks rarely disturb fowls.

Nest. Of sticks in crotches of trees, usually quite high up; often old crows nests are used; eggs bluish-white, unmarked or very faintly specked with brown. (1.90x1.45) ; April.

Range. Breeds from the Gulf north to southern Canada; winters from Mass, and Oregon southward.


334. Astur atricapillus. 23 in.

Adults, above bluish-slate, darkest on the crown: a whitish line over the eye; below white, finely waved with gray. Young, brownish-black, with lighter edgings to the feathers; below whitish, streaked with blackish-brown. Young birds can easily be distinguished from those of any other species by their large size and the long tail. This handsome species is one of the most rapacious and destructive of our birds of prey. Their short wings and long tail enable them to glide among the thickest foliage with great speed. and even the Ruffled Grouse cannot escape them. In the north where they live in summer, they destroy great numbers of Ptarmigan and Spruce Grouse, and come to us in the winter with their appetite whetted for a diet of poultry and our game birds, being exceedingly bold in their capture.

Nest. Of sticks lined with weeds and bark, in tall' trees; eggs white, unmarked.

Range. Breeds throughout Canada; winters in the northern half of the United States.


335. Parabuteo unicinctus harrisi. 20 in.

Tail coverts, base and tip of tail, white. Adults with the shoulders, thighs and under wing-coverts, reddish-brown. Young with rusty edgings to feathers on the back; below, rusty buff with blackish spots or streaks; thighs barred 'with blackish. Space in front of eye, bare except for stiff hair-like bristles, yellowish like the cere. This species is the connecting link between the vultures and hawks of the genus buteo. Its feedings habits are similar to t those of the vultures, with which it often associates when feeding upon carrion. They are very sluggish birds and their flight is slow and heavy; when not feeding they are usually perched on one foot on some dead limb, dozing.

Nest. Made of sticks, twigs and weeds, placed in bushes or low trees. Their three or four eggs are all white, unmarked (2.10x1.65).

Range. Mexico, north to southern United States chiefly in Texas, but also found in New Mexico and casually east to Louisiana.


337. Buteo borealis. 21 in.

One of the handsomest and most powerfully built of our hawks. Adults with the tail rusty-red, with or without a narrow blackish band near the tip; below white, with a band of blackish streaks across the breast, and dusky markings on the sides. Young birds are similar, but have the tail grayish-brown with black bands. An examination of the food of this bird of prey, made by the Department of Agriculture, shows that, instead of living upon poultry as most farmers think, their food consists chiefly of frogs, snakes, lizards, mice and insects, less than one in ten of the stomachs examined containing any remains of poultry.

Notes. A shrill whistle or scream.

Nest. Of sticks, weeds, leaves and trash high up in tall trees; eggs white, spotted with blackish-brown.

Range. Breeds in United States and Southern Canada; winters in the United States.

337a., Krider Hawk is a paler race found on the plains from Minn. to Texas.

337d., Harlan Hawk, is darker and has the tail mottled with blackish; found in the Gulf States.


339. Buteo Uncut us. 19 in.

Adults with the shoulders bright reddish-brown; primaries and secondaries barred with black and white: below buffy thickly barred with rusty -brown. Young with the shoulders duller; underparts white, streaked all over with blackish-brown. This is one of the most abundant of the birds of prey in Eastern United States, and it is also one of the most useful, destroying quantities of moles and field mice, as well as grasshoppers. Usually one or more pairs will be found in a piece of woods. One pair that I know, and I presume it is the same pair, each year has its nest on the edge of a colony of Black-crowned Night Herons and, during the season, they live and feed their young largely upon the young of these birds.

Nest. Of sticks, lined with weeds and strips of bark; eggs white, blotched with brown (2.15x1.75). April, May.

Range. Breeds from the Gulf to Maine and Minnesota.

339a. Fla. Red-Shouldered Hawk, found in Florida and north to So. Car., is paler colored.


341. Buteo albicaudatus sennetti. 22 in.

Adults grayish-slate above and to the sides of the throat; tail and underparts white, the former with a subterminal band of black and indistinct wavy lines and the latter with fine barring on the sides. The shoulders are largely chestnut. Young birds are brownish-black above and usually white below, but the underparts are variable often streaked with rusty and blackish, or even wholly black.

They are useful hawks, their food consisting chiefly of insects and moles or mice.

Nest. Built in bushes in open land, rarely more than six feet above ground. Composed of sticks, dry weeds and grasses making a bulky structure visible for a long distance. Three eggs are not uncommon but two is the usual number; they are dirty white with very few marks of brown (2.35 x 1.85) . Their nesting season ranges from as early as February to July.

Range. Not uncommon on the Gulf coast of Texas and in the lower Rio Grande Valley, southwards into South America.


342. Buteo swainsoni. 20 in.

This species has the greatest variety of plumages of any of our hawks. It has only three outer primaries notched near the tips, while the two last species, which are the only ones that can be confused with it, have four. Adults in the light phase have a band of rich chestnut across the breast. Adults in the dark phase are uniform blackish-brown, with some rusty edgings and with thighs more or less rusty. Young birds are buffy below, with elongated blackish spots. Its harmless character can be understood from the fact that it is no unusual sight to find other birds, such as Arkansas Kingbird and Bullock Oriole, nesting in the same tree; and the first mentioned species goes even further than this, sometimes constructing its home in the sides of the nests of the hawks.

Nest. Of sticks and twigs, either 'in trees or on the ground on rocky ledges; eggs white, spotted with brown. (2.20xL70).

Range. Western N. A., breeding from Texas to the Arctic regions; east to Illinois and west to the Pacific.


343. Buteo platypterus. 16 in.

Adults grayish-brown above; below, streaked on the throat and breast, and barred below, with rusty-brown; tail with three blackish bars. Young similar above; below white, streaked with blackish-brown. They are most apt to be confused with the Cooper and Red-Shouldered Hawk, but when in flight, it can usually be distinguished at a distance, from the former by its shorter tail, and from the latter by its smaller size and rounded wings. They may be classed as abundant east of the Great Plains. They are rather solitary in their habits, especially during the breeding season, when but one pair is usually found in a piece of woods.

Notes. A long, squeaking wail, sounding much like two branches rubbing together and creaking.

Nest. Of sticks, invariably lined with pieces of bark; usually placed in crotches next to the trunks of large trees, but not usually at a great height; eggs whitish, more or less blotched with brown and gray.

Range. Breeds north to New Brunswick and Manitoba; winters in southern half of the United States.


347a. Archibuteo lagopus sancti-johannis. 22 in.

Legs feathered to the toes. Adults blackish on the back and belly; head and breast, more or less grayish-white, streaked with dusky; tail white, barred on the end with black; eyes brown. In the dark phase they are blackish-brown, more or less mixed with rusty. This large, heavily-built species is found in the United States, only in winter; it frequents thinly wooded districts or meadows, where it catches its prey, which consists of small rodents, insects and reptiles. It is very irregular in its appearance, especially in the east, but it is most often found near the coast. It is a sluggish species and I doubt if it does any harm to wild birds or to poultry; it certainly does a great deal of good.

Nest. Of sticks, on rocky ledges; eggs bluish-white, boldly splashed with brown. (1.90x1.55).

Range. Breeds north of the United States border; winters in northern United States.


348. Archibuteo ferrugineus. 23 in.

Legs feathered to the toes. Adults with back, shoulders, thighs and legs, rusty, barred or streaked with black; tail grayish-white, tinged with rusty. Young birds are brownish-black, above and without any rusty below. In the dark phase they are sooty-brown, more or less varied with rusty, and the tail is the same as in the light plumage. Their bill is larger and tail longer than that of the last species. A fairly abundant hawk on the plains and prairies west of the Miss., usually not at a great distance from water.

Nest. Usually on the ground on bluffs or rocky ledges, but sometimes in trees; made of sticks and weeds; sometimes used year after year, and then becoming bulky, as it is added to each year; eggs white, handsomely spotted and blotched with blackish-brown, very variable.

Range. Breeds west of the Miss., from Kansas, locally, and the Dakotas, abundantly, north to Saskatchewan. Winters south to Mexico.


349. Aquila chrysætos. 35 in.

Legs feathered to the toes. Plumage blackish-brown, adults having the lengthened feathers on the nape, golden-brown, and the tail more or less mixed with white; leg feathers rusty. These large, handsome, well-built birds of prey are fairly abundant in thinly settled country west of the Miss., especially in mountains and foot-hills. They are very powerful birds and a single pair of them will rule the whole country in which they reside. They are very shy in the presence of man and will never attack a person or show fight unless wounded or surprised at their meals. Their food consist of prairie dogs, rodents, ducks and even fawns.

Notes. A shrill a " kee-kee-kee."

Nest. A very bulky structure of large sticks, lined with twigs, needles and in some cases evergreen; eggs creamy-white, spotted, splashed and clouded with various shades of brown and gray (2.90x2.50).

Range. West of the Miss., from Mexico northward; rarely eastward to the Atlantic coast.


352. Haliæetus leucocephalus. 34 in.

Legs not feathered to the toes. Adults with white head and tail. Young birds similar in color to those of the Golden Eagle, but blacker and with the legs always bare on the lower half. Young, with brown eyes, like those of the last; adults with yellow eyes and feet. This handsome bird of prey, our national emblem, is resident and locally distributed throughout the United States and Canada, always near streams or lakes, and most abundant on the seacoasts. Their food, like that of the Golden Eagle, is chiefly caught by themselves, and consists of any small mammals, geese, ducks, etc., and during the summer, or when their usual food is scarce, they feed upon fish, which they either catch for themselves or taken by force from Ospreys.

Nest. Of sticks large and bulky, and usually in tops of very tall trees; two eggs, pure white. (2.75x2.10).

Range. Resident locally in whole of North America.


353. Fa Ico islamlus. 23 in.

Adults in perfect plumage, pure white, slightly barred on the back and spotted below with black.

Nest. Of sticks, lined with grasses and feathers; placed on ledges of cliffs; eggs bulky white, specked with reddish brown, often so thickly that the ground color is obscured (2.30x1.80).

Range. Arctic region, breeding in Northern Greenland, and wintering to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and casually to northern Maine.



354. Falco rusticolus. 23 in.

Adults white, heavily barred above, and streaked below with gray and black.

Range. Arctic regions, south in winter, rarely to northern United States.

354a. GYRFALCON (F. r. gyrfalco). Similar to the last but darker, the latter being usually more white than dusky, while this is the reverse.

354b. BLACK GYRFALCOX (F. r. obsoletus). Much darker than the last, the markings tending to be buffy white spots on a grayish black ground.


355. Falco mexicanus. 18 in.

A blackish patch on the sides of the throat, similar to that of the Duck Hawk. Above brownish black, much paler and never with the slaty color of the Duck Hawk; below streaked or spotted with blackish brown. These falcons are fairly abundant on the western plains and prairies, and are also found in wooded mountain regions. They are strong and active and will fight fiercely if captured. They live upon small mammals, birds and occasionally, grouse. Their flight is very swift and accomplished by rapid wing beats, with occasional sailings.

Notes. A cackle, and rapidly repeated " kee-kee-kee." (Bendire) .

Nest. A mass of sticks and trash, -on bluffs or rocky ledges, and sometimes in trees; eggs reddish buff, thickly sprinkled and blotched with brown. (2.50x1.60).

Range. Eastern border of the Great Plains to the Pacific; and from Saskatchewan to southern Mexico.


356a. Falco peregrinus anatum. 17 in.

Black moustache mark, or patch on each side of the throat. Adults white below, tinged with buffy on the breast and sides, and lightly barred with black; above bluish slate, darkest on the crown. Some adults are darker, and much more heavily barred than others. Young, brownish black with rusty edges to the feathers; below, buffy, heavily streaked with blackish. This is one of the handsomest and most dashing of the raptores, and is very similar to the one formerly most used for the chase in England. They are swift and fearless in pursuit of -their prey, and the fastest flying ducks as well as the slower herons fall easy victims to their valor. Their feet are exceptionally large, and they are often, on this account, known as Great-footed Hawks.

Nest. Eggs laid upon bare ledges or soil, with very little, if any, nest. Bright buff, marked with rich rusty brown. (2.05x1.55).

Range. Breeds in Northern United States and Canada, most abundant west of the Miss.


357. Falco columbarius. 12 in.

Adult male, bluish slate above, with black shaft lines to the feathers; below buffy on the breast, sides and thighs; streaked on the breast and barred on the flanks with black; tail with four black bands. Female and young, blackish brown above; below streaked with dusky. These little falcons are very bold and courageous when led by the pangs of hunger, chasing their prey close to human beings, and they have been known to follow birds, which, in their fright, have dashed through windows in houses. They live upon any of the smaller birds, as well as rodents, grasshoppers and other insects.

Nest. Usually a slight platform of twigs in trees, deep in the woods, less often in cavities in trees, and sometimes on ledges; eggs buffy, heavily blotched with chestnut. (1.50x1.20).

Range. Breeds chiefly north of the United States, but occasionally on the northern border; winters in northern United States.


357b. Falco columbarius richardsonii. 12 in.

Both adults and young are similar to the same of the last species, but they are much paler colored, and the tail is crossed by six light bars. The habits of this species, which seems to have quite a limited range, are precisely like those of the Pigeon Hawk. Like that species, it flies swiftly, with rapidly beating wings, and occasionally sails and soars. The under surface of the wings is prominently barred, but not as much so as that of the Pigeon Hawk; it is very conspicuous when in flight.

Nest. Either in hollow trees, or a rude platform of sticks, usually not very high from the ground; eggs huffy white, handsomely blotched with brown. (1.60 xl.25).

Range. From the Miss, to the Rockies, and from Mexico north to Saskatchewan, locally distributed.


360. Falco sparverius. 10.5 in.

This is the smallest and one of the handsomest of our hawks. Cannot be mistaken for any other species, because of its bright colors and odd marking. The female is barred on the back, wings and tail, while the male has but a few short bars on the back. The general tone of both, above, is a bright rusty-brown. This is the most abundant hawk that we have, and it is also best known, chiefly because it is found commonly in the vicinity of farmhouses and commonly on the outskirts of cities. Their flight is peculiar, a few rapid wing beats, then a short sail, alternately. They are very noisy in mating season and when the young birds first fly, their notes being a rapidly repeated, " killy-killy-killy." Their food is of grasshoppers, mice and rarely small birds.

Nest. Usually in cavities in trees, often in deserted Flicker holes, the eggs being laid upon the bare wood. They are cream colored, finely sprinkled and spotted with brown. (1.35x1.10),

Range. Breeds from the Gulf States to Labrador and Hudson Bay. Winters in southern United States.


362. Polyborus cheriicay. 22 in.

These peculiar birds cannot be mistaken for any of our hawks or falcons. They are very sluggish birds, with habits resembling both those of buzzards and some of the hawks. They are usually known in localities where they are found, as Caracara Eagles. As we might suspect from the shape of their bill, the naked and bristle-covered lores, and the feet, which have not the strongly hooked talons of hawks, the food of these birds is largely carrion. It is terrestrial in its habits and is most often seen, when not in flight, either upon the ground, or standing erect on branches at lo\v elevations. They are more quarrelsome in their disposition than are vultures, and frequently fight over their prey.

Nest. A bulky, but shabby pile of sticks and weeds, in bushes or low trees; eggs buff, sprinkled, spotted or blotched with yellowish brown or chestnut. (2.50x 1.80).

Range. Resident of the Mexican border of the U. S. and in southern Florida.


364. Pandion halicetus carolinensis. 23 in.

Real old birds have the head whiter, and less white edging to the back feathers, than do the young. Feet very strong, and very hard and rough, perfectly adapted to grasping slippery fish; outer toe can be used equally as well, either in front or behind, when perching or grasping their prey. Their food is entirely of fish, which they catch themselves, by plunging after it, hovering in the air a few seconds while watching the fish, preparatory to diving upon it. They are always found about water and are very numerous on the seacoasts, where twenty or more may frequently be seen at a time. They are protected by law in some states, and by public sentiment in most others.

Notes. A loud, tremulous, piercing whistle.

Nest. Usually in trees; large and bulky, of sticks; sometimes on the ground, telegraph poles, chimneys, etc. Eggs creamy buff, blotched with rich brown. (2.40 xl.80).

Range. Breeds from the Gulf to Labrador and Alaska; winters in the southern half of the U. S.

Family Aluconidæ


365. Aluco pratincola. 18 in.

Plumage very soft, finely barred and specked; general coloration gray, yellowish-brown and white. No ear tufts; eyes small and brown; face very long; legs very long. These peculiar owls are abundant in the south, where they are commonly known as " Monkey faced Owls," because of their odd visage. They arc very useful birds, and are usually recognized as such. Their food consists almost wholly of small squirrels, rodents, reptiles and insects. It does most of its hunting just after dusk and early in the morning. Its night is rather slow and entirely noiseless, as is that of all the members of the family.

Nest. In hollow trees, under the roofs of barns or in caves; the four to six eggs are pure white. (1.70x 1.30).

Range. United States, breeding north to New York, Ontario, and Washington. Winters in the southern hall of the United States.


Family Bubonidæ


366. Asio wilsonianus. 15 in.

This species can readily be distinguished from the next, which is the only one of the same size, by its long ear tufts; it is also darker, and the markings on the breast are largely in the form of bars; In the northern portions of the United States, this species is probably the most abundant of owls, excepting the little Screech Owl. It is often quite common, where its presence is little suspected, because, unless disturbed, it flies only at night and is a rather silent species. During the daytime it is usually sitting upright in the dense tops of evergreen trees. Crows often discover them, and proclaim their hiding place to the whole neighborhood by their incessant cawing. Owls of all kinds are in disfavor with crows.

Notes. A soft-toned "wo-hunk, wo-hunk." (Bendire.)

Nest. They lay from four to seven pure white eggs, usually in old crow nests.

Range. Resident from the Gulf to Nova Scotia and Manitoba.


367. Asio flammeus. 15.5 in.

Ear tufts very short; general color buffy, not nearly as brown nor as dark as the last species usually is. They are not nearly as nocturnal as most of the owls, and most of their hunting is done about dusk, when they may be seen flying close to the ground over marshes or low land. Their flight is perfectly silent, which aids them in securing their prey of field mice, which they usually get without stopping in their flight, just swooping down, extending their long legs, armed with wicked little claws, and it is all over with the little rodent, he being carried to a nearby stump, and devoured, fur, bones and all.

Notes. A very short, shrill cry, evidently their call note, and a low clucking uttered as they swoop over your head; besides the usual snapping of the bill.

Nest. On the ground, usually in marshes; the four to seven eggs are pure white. (1.55x1.25).

Range. Breeds locally from the Gulf to the Arctic regions; winters throughout the United States.


368. Strix varia. 20 in.

Eyes dark brown. This is the most abundant of the large owls throughout its range. It has no ears. This species is the common " hoot owl," that is the terror of small children and many older ones. They are noisy birds, and two of them like to get at opposite sides of a piece of woods and talk to each other. Their notes are very variable but are oftenest combinations of " who-whos " and " too-toos," often ending in a mournful wail They spend the day in slumber, unless routed out of the dense trees where they rest, by crows or human beings. They are one of the least harmful of the family and should be protected.

Nest. Usually in hollow trees, but sometimes in old crow nests. Eggs pure white (1.95x1.65).

Range. Resident in eastern North America.

368a. Florida Barred Owl (alleni), is smaller, darker and the toes are unfeathered, as are those of 368b, Texas Barred Owl, found in southern Texas.


370. Scotiaptcx nebulosa. 27 in.

Tail long: eyes small and yellow. This large owl is only found in Northern United States during the winter. Its tail is unusually long, as are all its feathers, thereby making it appear a very much larger bird than it really is; it weighs but little more than the Barred Owl. They do not appear to be in especial abundance anywhere, but occasionally large flights of them will occur in some parts of the country: they seem to occur most freely in Minnesota and North Dakota. They are nocturnal like the majority of the family, and subsist largely upon mice and hares.

Nest. Of sticks, in trees, usually pines, in heavily wooded districts; eggs white. (2.15x1.70).

Range. Breeds from southern Labrador, Hudson Bay and Alaska northward; winters south to the northern border of the United States and casually to Long Island and Illinois.


371. Cryptoylaux funerea richardsoni. 10 in.

This species bears considerable resemblance to the little Acadian Owls, but is grayer; the top of the head has numerous round white spots and the wing coverts are spotted with white.

Nest. Usually in holes of trees; eggs white.

Range. Breeds throughout Canada, and possibly in the northern parts of the northern states; winters south to northern United States.



372. Cryptoglaux acadica. 8 in.

Smallest of our eastern Owls; no ear tufts. General color brownish above and white below with the sides streaked with brown. No markings on wing coverts, but scapulars spotted with white. It is chiefly nocturnal in its habits and, consequently, is not often seen even if they are abundant.

Range. Breeds from northern U. S. northward; winters in northern United Spates.


373. Otus asio. 9.5 in.

Two color phases independent of age, sex or season; eyes yellow; has ear tufts. The Screech Owl, or it* sub-species, is found throughout the United States, and is one of the most abundant and best known of the family. They are not at all timid, in winter frequently being found in church towers, while on the outskirts of cities and in the country, they reside, at all seasons of the year, in orchards. They remain mated for life, and live in the same tree for years, if not too much disturbed by curious boys. Both adults and the four young are often found in the nest together, and they offer no resistance when they are removed by hand. Their food is almost wholly of insects and rodents.

Notes. A wavering trill.

Nest. In holes of trees; eggs white (1.35x1.20).

Range. Resident in U. S. and southern Canada.

373a. Florida Screech Owl (floridanus), is smaller and slightly darker,

373b. Texas Screech Owl (mccalli), is smaller and more heavily barred on the sides.


375. Bubo virginianus. 23 in.

Has ear tufts, thus distinguishing it from any other of our large, powerfully built owls. These large birds are the fiercest, most active and most destructive of the family. Their size and strength allows them to kill skunks and woodchucks, as well as poultry, grouse and small mammals and birds. They seem to be especially fond of skunks, and nearly all of them that I have seen or handled, have given unmistakable evidence of their recent and close association with these animals.

Notes. A deep, dismal "who-who," and a loud unearthly shriek.

Nest. Usually in deserted hawk or crow nests, and also in hollow trees; eggs white. (2.25x1.85). Feb., March.

Range. Breeds and resident from the Gulf to Labrador.

375a. Western Horned Owl (pallescens) is paler colored; found in the plains and Rockies north to Manitoba.

375b. Arctic Horned Owl (subarcticus), is chiefly black and white; found in Arctic America, wintering south to northern border of United States.


376. Xyctea nyctea. 25 in.

No ear tufts. Plumage white, more or less heavily spotted with black, the female usually being quite strongly barred on the back. They are locally abundant in the far north, preferring low, mossy lands to the more timbered districts. Here they find an abundance of food during the summer months, living upon hares, lemmings, ptarmigan and ducks. They are about the equal of the Horned Owl in strength, and usually will weigh a few ounces more; they will frequently kill animals or birds as heavy, or heavier, than themselves. They also catch a great many fish; these they get in shallow water among the rock-weed covered stones, by reaching down quickly and seizing their prey in their strong claws.

Nest. On the ground in dry portions of marshes; the 2 to 8 eggs are pure white.

Range. Breeds from Labrador and Hudson Bay, northward, and possibly farther south; winters casually to the Middle States, and commonly to Minnesota and Maine.


377a. Surnia ulula caparoch. 15 in.

Tail long and rounded; plumage mottled black, white and gray, with little, if any, brownish tinge; heavily barred with black. These owls, curiously resembling a hawk in build, and more so in flight, are very active and hunt more during the daytime than after dark. They feed largely upon small rodents and lemmings which are very abundant in their summer home, and also kill a great many small birds. They seem to be impartial to wooded districts, or open marshes and low lands, where they may be seen skimming about close to the ground.

Nest. Either of sticks in the tops of trees, or in hollow cavities. The eggs are white, as are those of all owls, and nearly globular in shape. (1.40x1.25).

Range. Breeds from Newfoundland and Manitoba northward, and possibly farther south on the mountains. Winters south to northern United States, rarely to New York and Illinois.


378. Speotyto cunicularia hypogoea. 10 in.

Legs very long, and nearly bare on the lower part of tarsi; tail short; no ear tufts. An abundant and useful species in the prairie regions west of the Mississippi. They live in the same region that prairie dogs are found, using deserted burrows of these animals, or taking them by force, for they are more than a match for these curious animals; they do not, as has often been said, live peaceably in the same burrows with them. On the contrary, young prairie dogs, as well as rodents, small snakes and birds, form a large part of their daily diet. They are both diurnal and nocturnal, doing most of their hunting after dusk, but often seen sitting at the mouth of the burrow during the daytime. The six to ten eggs that they deposit at the end of these burrows are white.

Range. West of the Miss. Valley, north to Southern Manitoba and British Columbia.

378a. Florida Burrowing Owl (floridana), is smaller and whiter; found in southern Florida.