Nature Notes

Vol. VIII October, 1930 No. 11

'Man Killing' Owls Pigmy Owl

For a long time this tale of the "leaping hat" was kept under the aforesaid hat by the victim--for he knew that it would be branded as one of those famous "Ranger tales". But after several other Rangers confessed to the same experience on the same trail this story got out in certified form.

One day last summer, returning late from Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, Park Naturalist Brockman decided to return to Longmire via the Ramparts Trail. This is a steep trail that plunges over Ramparts Ridge through dense timber into Longmire. Reaching the top of the hill, the weary Naturalist sat down to watch the over-new pageant of the setting of the sun. Engrossed in this wild scene he sat until the shadows of the night became dense around him, then with a start he began the descent down the trail which was now in stygian darkness.

Groping his way cautiously through the timber he suddenly felt something strike his Stetson hat and tilt it violently forward over his eyes. Thinking it a falling cone he straightened the tilted headpiece and stumbled on. Again the animated hat tilted violently forward striking him a sharp rap on the bridge of the nose. About the third strike the bewildered naturalist began to recall the banshee tales of childhood days. A fourth assualt and he selected a weighty club and turned to face the mysterious assailant. But there was nothing there--and absolutely no sound.

The last half mile of that walk through the Plutonian darkness resembled a rout, the lone hiker later confessed. Just as he entered the lighted area at Longmire the hat again leaped forward onto the bridge of his now tender nose--as no ordinary hat should do. And then the mystery was solved! Simultaneously with the tilting of the hat, Brockman saw a tiny Pigmy Owl sweep silently in front of him, finishing the dive by which he had just struck the Stetson.

Evidently the Owl took the bobbing hat for an article of food or an enemy and continually swooped at it with his talons or beak.

L. G. RICHARDS, Park Ranger.

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