15 FEBRUARY 1935, Page 16

The Urban Owl A number of birds enjoy towns, often

to our surprise. For example : I spent one night last week in a house in West Bromwich, just off the main road. It is a very urban spot, though it was rural not so long ago. The fathers of men living there spoke of shooting duck and snipe by its principal road, just as grandfathers or great-grandfathers of Londoners are commonly reported to have shot snipe in Eaton Square. In that urban retreat some of the household were kept awake by the loud and continuous hooting of a brown owl ; and as we left the house in the morning we saw the bird perched happily and undisturbed on one of the few trees that the builders have left. The brown owl is perhaps the most urban of birds, after the sparrow. They abound in some of the more open towns, especially, so far as my experience goes, in Oxford. In West

Bromwich one was found drowned in a water butt (owls are very thirsty birds) but surprisingly its place was almost instantly taken by another immigrant.

W. BEAcu