Bat-fowling is an archaic method of catching birds at night, while they are at roost. It has involved lighting straw or torches near their roost. After waking them up out of their roost, the birds fly toward the flames, where, being amazed, they are easily caught in nets, or beaten with bats. The phrase "beating about the bush" is said to be derived from this practice as the trappers accomplices would go around the bushes to disturb the birds. The practice was also called lanciatoia in Italy and a variation was called Low-belling. The idea was to approach birds with bright lights and using cow bells, which the birds were accustomed to, to approach the birds up close and capture them with a long-handled net.
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This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.