Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/643

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By W. E. CRAM.

IT is a pretty well known fact among hunters and students of Nature generally that most flesh-eating animals, whether in fur or feathers, can be more readily called by imitating the squeaking of mice than in any other way, and proves conclusively enough that these creatures depend largely on the sense of hearing in their struggle for a livelihood.

My first practical illustration of this fact occurred so long ago that it seems almost like ancient history.

For some reason or other one summer's vacation began some six hours earlier than was expected, and although apparently insignificant enough when compared with the entire three months that were to follow, that extra half holiday was probably valued out of all due proportion by the pupils, owing to its unexpectedness, and for that reason, perhaps, more than any other, is still recalled by one at least as distinctly as ever.

One of the boys had a contrivance known as a bird-call-—a simple instrument of wood and some soft metal—that, on being turned, produced noises that bore not the slightest resemblance to PSM V55 D643 The owl mephistopheles.pngMephistopheles. the cries of any bird, but were not entirely unlike the squeaking of a mouse in distress.

Some of us were more or less skeptical as to its powers of attracting birds, and decided to put it to the test. So we loafed about under the apple trees working the. thing for all it was worth, but no birds came about us, and the bird-call was in danger of being thrown away in disgrace, when a small brown beast appeared from under a pile of boards and came running toward us, till suddenly scenting danger it disappeared. There was some discussion at the time whether it was a rat, chipmunk, or red squirrel; none had seen it very clearly or could give any very definite description of it, but in all probability it was a weasel attracted by what it supposed to be the voice of its accustomed prey.

About halfway between that time and the present a young long-eared owl became an important member of our family, a most