This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Long-eared Owl, the Tawny or Brown Owl, and owls generally are sometimes classed by gamekeepers and poultry-farmers among winged vermin, but, except where extensive rearing of game and poultry obtains, we think unjustly. True, an owl acquiring the habit of taking a young partridge, pheasant, or chicken from the pheasant and poultry-rearing grounds will come again and again, and also make recurrent visits to rabbit-warrens and carry off the young rabbits in the dusk of the evening and at dawn of day. Under such exceptional circumstances the bird so offending must be shot, otherwise the depredations will be continued indefinitely, and probably lead to others of the same ilk contracting similar habits - the taking of food easiest procured. But owls, as a rule, feed mostly upon the four-footed and two-legged denizens of the woods, fields, and gardens classed as destructive to the crops of the forester, farmer, and gardener. In 210 pellets of the Tawny Owl, which bears the worst character for poaching, Dr. Altum found the remains of 1 stoat, 371 mice, 40 moles, 18 small birds, and many beetles.
With this record justification is given for the insistence on owls being unmolested, even by the game-preserver and the poultry-farmer, who should remember that the owls in this connexion are night-birds, and when they are abroad the young birds, game and poutry, should be safe under the hen, also that for an occasional taking of a young pheasant, rabbit, or chicken, the immense destruction of mice, etc., more than counterbalance.