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86   IN THE ACADIAN LAND.

bill, and his cruel claws drawn up into fists and ready for action. There is no need to mistake the mission of this feathered marauder. All day long he has slept and dozed in the gloomiest retreat of yonder hemlock wood. As the day wore on the pangs of hunger grew stronger; the eyes opened wider as the fading light went out. He must have meat or he must die. No other food will keep life in him. He has glided off his perch to kill something. For that purpose is he equipped with night-seeing eyes like tigers and cats, with fierce and strong claws and tearing beak. His noiseless wings are covered with a velvet-like texture of finest feather-work. He expects to pounce on some sleeping bird or feeding rabbit. This is the cat-owl, or horned owl (Bubo virginianus). IIe has no need to fear any enemy but man. The whole family of them seem to represent a night side of Nature. They have never been in favor with mankind. Their solitary habits, their preference for dark places in the daytime, their murderous dispositions have all been against them, from our point of view. Pliny; the old Roman author, says of owls : " They are the very ministers of the night, neither crying nor singing clear, but uttering certain heavy groans, and if therefore they be seen


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