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garden in the close, with ivy-covered walls and large trees and shrubs; but his master grew tired of him, and gave him to five young ladies, the daughters of an old friend living in the town, who made a great pet of him. “Pat” used to live a great deal in the kitchen, and was particularly fond of getting into the meat-screen and basking in its warmth; but if he could get an opportunity of stealing out of the kitchen, he would set off on an exploring expedition over the house, and was met with in all parts of it -sometimes perched among the ornaments on the drawing-room mantelpiece, apparently admiring himself in the mirror; sometimes in the bed-rooms, washing himself in the water-jugs and looking at himself in the lookingglasses. He had a great eye for colours, and had a peculiar fondness for pink, perching upon any pretty silk of that colour, and eyeing it with great satisfaction. He had strong likes and dislikes, and took a violent antipathy to a young girl who was in the habit of coming to the house. On one occasion Pat escaped to the roof of the stable, and his mistresses were afraid they would lose him; he resisted all their entreaties to come down; but on seeing the girl crossing the yard, he immediately flew down upon her, and the servants were obliged to seize him before he had done her mischief with his formidable beak and claws. After this escapade one of his wings was cut, to prevent his getting away. He was very much pleased when he could get into the drawing-room, which was forbidden territory to him: he would get in by the window, if it was incautiously left open, if he could not get in by the door. He never did any mischief, but went about gravely examining everything; then perched himself upon a chair and looked out of window as if perfectly happy and contented there.
His real home was the stable, but he was very little in it except at night. He was fed chiefly on raw meat, and when ill of the “gapes,” was doctored, like the fowls, with
peppercorns. The friend who gave me this account (one of the sisters to whom he belonged) did not remember his catching mice: she said he lived a very artificial life, being wide awake all day and asleep at night, and died of consumption, supposed to be brought on by the great changes of temperature to which he was subjected. If, however, he had no mice, he would probably be destroyed by the absence of the fur or feathers, which all Owls require as much as Hawks. A gentleman who kept one of these Owls says that if he had no mice, he swallowed sand and small stones with his raw meat, and the pellets he threw up consisted chiefly of these, which seemed to have answered the same purpose as the fur and bones of the mice. This Owl ate rabbits, rats, moles, frogs, and black slugs when given to him. Bechstein says that the White Owl should be kept in a large cage, or chained to a perch in an aviary or birdroom, as it will destroy all the small birds, though mice are its favourite food. It is difficult to manage during the breeding season; at other times, if birds or mice are put into its cage in the evening, it will eat them in the night. A writer in “Science Gossip" observes that Owls and some species of Hawks always bring their wings forward and spread their tails when seizing their food, and that they are supposed to do this in order to conceal it, because they do not like to be watched while eating. He gives another reason for this,—that if the bird were to strike its quarry while on the ground as it does in the air, it would be disabled or killed by the shock which it would receive; but that, by swooping down upon its prey, and bringing its wings and tail downwards and forwards with a sharp stroke, it alights upon the ends of its strong elastic quills, and deadens the shock to its own body, while at the same time it encloses a space of four or five feet in circumference, out of which the mouse cannot escape; the roots of the quills being plentifully supplied with nerves, the Owl feels at once any attempt of his captive to get through, and seizes it with his claws. The remains of this instinct, he thinks, causes these birds to “hide their food”in captivity.
The LITTLE OWL (Strix passerina) is strictly nocturnal in its habits, and becomes very lively towards evening. In its wild state it feeds on mice, bats, small birds, and insects. In a cage it may be kept in good health, fed on lean mutton dried and soaked in water for two days before it is eaten. Three quarters of an ounce a day will be enough for it, in addition to the mice or birds, which are necessary to it that the fur or feathers may cleanse its stomach; otherwise it will die of decline. The Small Owl is said to be a very clean bird, and to be an amusing pet from its very odd and grotesque gestures; but it has a hoarse, disagreeable cry, and is apt to be very restless in the breeding season.
THE CROW TRIBE.
The RAVEN (Corvus Corax).-So many anecdotes are told of this bird, to which many strange superstitions are attached, that there is no need to multiply proofs of its great sagacity and cunning. Shepherds and gamekeepers wage war against it; the former with good reason, as they declare that it watches any weakly animal among their flock, and that if a lamb seems very feeble and likely to die, the Raven will accelerate matters by attacking its eyes.. Mr. Knox defends it from the enmity of gamekeepers, declaring that the Raven is the friend of those who desire to preserve game, because it will not allow any weasel, stoat, or bird of prey to approach the neighbourhood of its nest; and he asserts that, although pheasants and hares abounded in the immediate vicinity of a pair of Ravens who used to breed every year in Burton Park, Sussex, neither they nor their young were ever touched by them, but they lived upon the flesh of dead animals, rats, and rabbits, brought from a long distance. Probably they prefer carrion if they can get it, but they seem to have a very indiscriminating appetite, and to eat small mammalia, birds' eggs, reptiles, insects and fish, and occasionally grain.
The Raven is found in both hemispheres and in all climates, braving equally the severity of an arctic winter and the heat of the tropics. In most countries he is considered either a sacred bird or a bird of ill omen. He is a grim ungainly bird, and his habit of turning his head to look over his shoulder has made some people suppose that he was pursued by an evil conscience, and his croak is supposed to bode misfortune to those who hear it. Yet tame Ravens have been petted even by sailors, the most superstitious of men; and Captain M‘Clure, in his narrative of the discovery of the North-West Passage, tells of a Raven which haunted the “Investigator," unmolested by any of the men, between whom and the bird a mutual confidence had been established; so that when it left the ship its departure was mourned and its society missed by all. The dog would sometimes run at the Raven, but it would quietly watch his movements, and hop on his head, and search for food at the dirt-heap, keeping its eye always upon the dog, and croaking occasionally as if in mockery of him. Two other Ravens visited the ship at another time, when the cold was very severe, and lived upon any scraps they could secure after meal-times. The dog considered these his perquisites, and the Ravens would throw themselves intentionally in his way just as the mess-tins were being cleaned out. The dog would run at them, and they would fly a few yards, and entice him on and on by appearing to escape him only by an inch, till they had drawn him to a considerable distance from the ship, when they would fly back, and devour the scraps before the dog had time to get there. They seemed to enjoy outwitting
him exceedingly; and Ravens and other cunning birds, such as Jackdaws and Magpies, certainly appear to have the power of appreciating mischief, and will often do mischief for mischief's sake. A tame Raven which was kept by a friend of my brother's used to lay plots to catch the dog, and displayed considerable ingenuity in enticing him into situations where he could peck him with impunity. This bird did so much mischief at liberty, that at length he was confined in a large cage, and even here he seemed to take great pleasure in enticing the dog into dangerous proximity to his cage, by putting a bone close to the bars, and pretending to turn away from it, being all the time lying in wait to pounce upon the marauder as soon as he came within his reach. One morning in the summer my brother, who was sleeping in a room near the Raven's cage, was aroused very early by an extraordinary noise proceeding from it, and on going to the window to investigate the cause,
he found that a wild Raven was perched upon the cage of the tame one, and was talking in Raven language, while the other bird replied in all the tongues which he had acquired-chattering, stringing together all the words and sentences it knew, coughing, sneezing, barking, and spluttering, till the dialogue became the most extraordinary combination of sounds that could be imagined. The wild bird appeared to be endeavouring to persuade its companion to join him, while the captive poured forth all its accomplishments in answer to his blandishments. Next morning the same scene occurred, but apparently the wild Raven was convinced of the uselessness of his attempts, for it was never witnessed again.
The manner in which the Raven utters the sentences he has learned is often so completely as if he understood what he was saying, and he so often uses the right phrase to accomplish his purpose, that it would seem that he must attach some meaning to it, or at least that he has observed the effect of certain words, and repeats them