Night-fowling, in which birds are first roused from their slumber by the tinkling of a bell; and then dazzled by a light so as to be easily caught. (Low, Scotch, lowe, a flame, as a “lowe of fyre;” and bell.)
“The sound of the low-bell makes the birds lie close, so that they dare not stir whilst you are pitching the net, for the sound thereof is dreadful to them; but the sight of the fire, much more terrible, makes them fly up, so that they become instantly entangled in the net.” —Gent. Recreation.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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