“. . . when nature, on the eve of preparing for approaching night, permits useful dews to fall and rest on every plant, with the view of reviving its leaves, its fruits, or its lingering blossoms, ere the return of morn; when every night-insect rises on buzzing wings from the ground, and the fire-fly, amidst thousands of other species, appears as if purposely to guide their motions through the sombre atmosphere; at the moment when numerous reptiles and quadrupeds commence their nocturnal prowlings, and the fair moon, empress of the night, rises peacefully on the distant horizon, shooting her silvery rays over the heavens and the earth, and, like a watchful guardian, moving slowly and majestically along; when the husbandman, just returned to his home, after the labours of the day, is receiving the cheering gratulations of his family, and the wholesome repast is about to be spread out for master and servants alike; –it is at this moment, kind reader, that . . . your ear would suddenly be struck by the discordant screams of the Barred Owl.  Its whah, whah, whah, whah-aa is uttered loudly, and in so strange and ludicrous a manner, that I should not be surprised were you, kind reader, when you and I meet, to compare these sounds to the affected bursts of laughter which you may have heard from some of the fashionable members of our own species.”

–J. J. Audubon, Ornithological Biography, I (1831), 242 [excerpted].

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