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    All the preceding birds belong to that division of the Rapacious Order which pursue their prey in the open face of day, and are consequently termed Diurnal; but those which we have now to notice are on the contrary Nocturnal in their habits, and only venture abroad in the shades of the evening, or under cover of the darkness of the night. They are readily distinguished from the former by their short and compressed bill, curved from its very base; by the anterior position of their eyes, which are of great size and surrounded by a circular disc of stiff hairs and feathers, covering the base of the bill anteriorly and extending posteriorly over the ears, which, as well as the disc, vary considerably in size in[214] the different races; by the great extent of dilatation of which their pupils are capable, a provision admirably calculated for enabling them to see by night; by the breadth and apparent bulk of their heads and bodies, both of which are thickly clothed with long and soft feathers; by the plumage of their legs, which in all the European species is continued down to the very toes, and sometimes even along them; by the direction of their toes, which are all naturally turned forwards, the external one being, however, capable of taking an opposite direction; and by the high degree of retractility and sharpness of their claws.


    3.If to these two kinds of Menageries we add that which has every where and under all circumstances accompanied the first dawn of civilization, and which constitutes the distinguishing characteristic of man emerging from a state of barbarism and entering upon a new and social state of existence, the possession of flocks and herds, of animals useful in his domestic economy, serviceable in the chase, and capable of sharing in his daily toils, a tolerable idea may be formed of the collections which were brought together in the earliest ages, and were more or less the subjects of study to a race of men who were careless of every thing that had no immediate bearing upon their feelings, their passions, or their interests.
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