Aristotle's History of animals. In ten books online

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then roll themselves on the ground. When the crocodile |
^apes, the trochilus flies into its mouth, to cleanse its teeth ;
m this process the torochOus procures food, and the other per- j
oeires it, and does not injure it ; when the crocodile wishes the I
trochilus to leave, it moves its neck that it may not bite the i
bird« "When the tortoise has eaten a viper, it afterwards eats
origanum ; this has been observed. A person who had often
seen this done, and had observed that when the tortoise had
tasted the origanum it went back to the viper, gathered aU
the origanum, and when this was done, tiie tortoise died.

4 tnie weasel eats the herb rue before it attacks a .
serp ent, for the smell of this herb is obnoxious to serpents.
When the draco has eaten much fimit, it sucks the juice of .
the bitter lettuce ; it has been seen to do this. When dc^are
troubled with worms, they tet the green tops of com. When.
the pelargus or any other bird has been wounded in flighty '
they feed upon marjoram, and many persons have seen tiie
locust* settle upon the neck of serpents with which it was .
conteodipg. Toe weasel also appears prudent in the way in
whidb it attacks birds, for it kills them in the same manner '»
as wolves kiU sheep ; it will fight also with serpents, and ;
espeeially with those that hunt mice; for the wcsmI pursues^
the same animals.

lAoonils. • Spaa hemtiM^'^ttlMitr.

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B. nc] THi niSTOBT or AimiALS. 280

5. Obflerrationt have been (requentljmade on tbe iBBiinet
of tbe hedgehoff, for wben tbe north and south winds change,
those that dwml in the earth alter the nosition of the en-
trance of their burrows ; those which are kept in houses alter
their position from wall to wall, so that thej say that in
Byzantium there was a person who obtained the character
of predicting the change of the weather, from obsenrationa
made on the hedgehog. The ictis is about the size of a small
Maltese dog; in the thickness of its hair, its appearance,
its white hMj, and the cunning of its disposition, it re-
sembles the weasel ; it is easily tamed ; it attacks hijes of
bees, for it is rerj fond of honey ; it eats birds like cats ;
its penis, as it has been already observed, is bony, and ap-.
pears to be a remedy for staanguary in the human subject;
it is administered in shavings.

Chapter Vni.

]. Maitt animals in their mode of life appear to imitate
mankind, and one may observe greater accuracy of intellect
in small than in large animals ; as the manufacture of its
dwelling by the swulow is remsrkable among birds ; it has
the same method of oombimns chaff with mud, for it mixes
the mud with straw, and if mud is not to be found, it
dips in the water and rolls itself in the dust ; it uses straw
in making its nest as men use it, for it places the largest
at the bottom, and makes it commensurate with its own
bulk ; both the male and female labour in support of the
young. They feed each in turn, observing by some agree-
ment the one which was first fed that none may receive food
twice ; at first they turn the dung out of the nest, but as li

the young birds increase in size, they teach them to turn i

themselves, so as to eject their excrement cut of the nest. £

2. There are some observations which may be made on | ,

pigeons, for they will not pair with many mates, nor do ther ,^

forsake their first companion, unless they become widowea. I

The care and anxiety of the male at the time of parturition I

are remarkable, for if the pain causes the hen to feel lanffuid
when near the nest, he beats her and drives her in. when
the jowjg are hatched, the parent provides salt earth, which
is injected into the open mouth of tne young birds, aa a pre-
panSkion for the reception of food. When it is time for
them to leave the nest^ the male copulatee with them alL



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240 THB HI8T0BT OT AJmUlM. [b.IX.

8. In this manner they hare utnallj a ^at affection for
each other. Some females will copulate with males that are
not their own mates. This bird is contentious, thej ficht
together, and attack each other's nests, though not ue-
quentljr, for although they are beaten when at a distance,
tneir will fight to the last when near their nests ; it appears
to oe characteristic of the pigeon, phaps, and turtle not
to lean back when ther drink, unless thej haye had suffi-
cient. The turtle ana phatta aways remain faithful to the
same male, and will not permit another to approach them,
and the male and female share the labour or incubation.
The male and female are not easily distinguished, except
by their internal structure.

4. The phatta is long-liyed, they haye been known to
live for twenty-fiye or thirty years, some eyen forty years ;
their claws grow when they become aged, and pigeon
breeders cut them off, and in no other respect are they in-
ferior when aged. The turtle and the pigeon, if they naye
been blinded by those who use them as aecoy birds, will liye
eight years. The partridge liyes fifteen years, the phaps and
the turtle always build in the same places.

5. On the whole, males also live Iod^ than females, but in
these birds they say that the males die before the females ;
this condusion is deriyed from the observation of those
which are brought up in houses for decoy birds. Some
persons say that cock-sparrows only lire for one year, con-
8iderin|[ this as a proof, that earl^ in the spring there are no
birds with black beneath the chin ; but they have it after-
wards, as if none of the former birds had survived. The
hen-sparrows have a longer life, for these are taken among
the youn^ birds, and are easily known by the hard portion
about their bills, llie turtle lives during the summer in
cold places, and during the winter in warm places. The finch
lives during the summer in warm places, and in cold places
during winter.

Chavtsb DL
1. Thb beavy birds do not make nests, for it does not agree
with thrir mode of flight, as the quail, partridge, and all
sudi birds ; but when they have made a nolo in the smooth
ground (for they nerer produce their young in any other


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place), thej collect together some thoroa and aticka for a
defence a^nst the hawks and eagles, and there lay their
eggs and incubate. As soon as the young are hatched, they
lead them out, because their slow flight prevents them from
procuring food for them. The quail and partridge shelter
their young under their wings, like the domestic fowL

2. They do not lay and incubate in the same nkce, lest
any one should discover the place while they sat there for a
long while ; and when any one in hunting fidls upon the
nest, the partridge halts before him, as if she could he token,
and draws him after her in the hopes of capture, until all
the young ones have had time to escape, ana after she flies
bock and recalls them to their nest. The partridge does
not lay less than ten eggs, and often sixteen. As it has been
already observed, it is a bird of an evil and cunning dispo-
Bition. In the spring they separate with singing and fight-
ing into pairs with the females which each majr happen to
take. The partridge being a bird of violent passions, it tries
to prevent the female from incubation by rolling and break-
ing the eggs, if it can find them. The female, opposing this
artifice by another, lays her eggs as she runs, and often,
from her desire of laying, she drops her eggs wherever
she may be, if the male is present ; and, that they may all
be preserved, she does not return to them. If she is ob-
served by men, she leads them away from her eggs as from
her young ones, and shows herself just before them until
they ore drawn away from the nest.

8. When the hen has escaped for incubation, the cocks
crow and fight together. These are cidled widowers. The
vanquished in the combat follows his conquer who alone
has mtercourse with him ; and if any one is'overcome by
a second, or by any chance one, the victor has secret inter-
course with him. This does not take place always, but only at
certain seasons of the year. The quail does uie same, and
domestic fowls also ; for when a new one is criflTered in the
temples, where they are kept without tiie females, all in
turn are united with it. Tame partrid^ have sexnal inter-
course with wild ones, and stril^ and insult them.

4. The leader of the wOd partrid^ attacks the partridge
used in fowling, and goes out crowing as if he would fight.
"When he is taken in the trap, the ot£er goes out and onnra


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242 THI HI8T0BT OT AimCALS. [b. II

in tbe tame manner. If the partridge nsed for fowling is a
cock, they behaye in this waj ; but if it is a female, ana she
calls, the leader answers her call ; and all the rest rise np
and beat him, and driye him awaj from the female, because
he attends to her instead of themselyes. For this reason
he often comes silently, that the others may not hear his
Toice and come ont to fight him. And some experienced
fowlers say that the male approaches the female in silence,
that the other males may not hear him and compel him to
fight them. The partridge not only calls, but also utters a
shrill cry and othw sounds.

5. And it often happens, when the hen is sitting, that if
she sees the male approaching the decoy bird, she will got
up from her nest, and remain in his way, that he may have
intercourse with her, and not be drawn away by the decoy
bird. Partridges and quails hare such riolent sexual desires
that they will fall upon the fowlers and often perch upon
their heads.

Chafteb X.

1. This is the mode of the sexual intercourse of the par-
trid^ and the way in which thejr are caught, and the nature
of the rest of their crafty disposition. Quails, and partridges,
and some other birds make their nest upon the ground, as
it has been already obsenred. Of such birds the lark, wood-
cock, and quail do not perch upon trees, but upon the ground.
2. The woodpecker does not settle upon the ground, but
it strikes trees in order to drive out the worms and flies
which they contain, and it picks them up with its tongue as
they emerge. Its tongue is wide and large. It walks upon
the trees in any position, even beneath the branches, like the
gecko. It has ctaws strong than those of the coloous, which
provide for its safety in chmbing trees ; for it fixes them in
the bark as it walxs up the trees. There is one kind of
woodpecker leas than the bladibird, covered with small
red spots, and another Icind larger than the bladcbird, and
a third kmd nearly as large as the domestic hen. It builds
its nest upon trees, as it haa been already observed, both on
dive and other trees ; and it feeds upon ants and worms
wbidi Uve in trees. It hunts for worms so diligently that
thej say it hoDowi out the trees so much aa todiroir thtm


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down. A tame bird has been known to place an almond in
a crack in wood, to prepare it for the stroke of its bill, and
break it with three Uows, in order to eat the kemeL

Chjjptib XL

Mavt pmdent actions appear to be performed by cranes;
for thej trayel ffreat distances, and flj at a great elerationy
in <nrder that toi^ may see farther; and if they see deads
and wintry weatW, they descend and rest themsdyes.
They haye also a kader in front ; and in the rear are tiiose
which give a signal by wUstling, so that their Toice may be
heard. When they settle on the ground, the rest sleep with
.their head under the Fine, first on one foot, then on the
other ; but the leader watdies with hiB neck stretched out,
and when he sees anything he gires a signal by his cry*
The pelicans, which inhabit the rirers, swallow laige smooUi
shells with their drink, and when they haye been digested
in the first part of their stomach, they romit them up, in
order that they may pick out and eat uieir flesh when thej
open their yalfes.

Chaptbb xn.

1. Ths habitations of wild birds are contrired with relation
to their mode of life and the preservation of their young.
Some of them are kind to their ]roung and careful of them :
others are of a different disposition. Some manage well in
their mode of life: others do not. Some dwell in defts, and
holes, and in rocks, as the birds called charadrius. This
bird is faulty both in its colours and its roice. It appears
during the night, and escapes in the day time.

2. The hawk also builds in predpitous places; and al*
though it is camiTorous, it does not ckfour the heart of the
bird it has killed. Some have obserred this with mpect to 1

the quail and thrush, and others with other birds. Tnmis t

also a change in their mode of hunting their ppgr, for thej \

do not sdie tiiem in the same way in summer and in winter.
It is said that no one has ever seen the Toung or the nest of
the carrion Tulture. Wherefim Herooorusy the fitther of
Brison the sophist^ says that they come from some distant
ele?ated land, using this prool^ that many of them ap»
pear suddenly, but nAeretbqr come from is Bo# JntdligiHe


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to any one. The reason is this, thej make their nest in
inaccessible rocks, and the bird is not an inhabitant of manj
coontries. It produces one egg or two at the most.

8. Some birdi dwell in mountains and in woods, as the
hoopoe and brenthus. This bird has a good«habit of life and
a good Toice. The torochilus dwells in thickets and holes.
It is taken with difficulty, for it is swift in flight, and its
disposition is weak ; but its mode of life is good, and it is
arttul. It is also called presbjs and basileus. Wherefore
also thej say that it fights with the eagle.

chaptbb zm.

1. There are some which live near the sea, as the cinclus.
In disposition this bird is cunning and difficult of capture,
and wnen taken easily tamed. It appears to be lame, for
its hinder parts are weak. All birds with webbed feet lire
near the sea, or near rirers and ponds, for their nature
teaches them to seek what is adrantageous for them. Many
of those with divided feet live near waters and marshes, as
the anthus in the neighbourhood of rivers. Its colour is
beautiful, and its mode of life good. The diver lives near
the sea, and when it plunges into the sea it remains
as lone a time as it would take a man to walk over a pleth-
rum of ground. This bird is less than a hawk.

2. The swan also is web-footed, and lives in ponds and
marshes. Its manner of life and disposition is good, ai^ so
is its mode of rearing their younjg and its old age. Ju an
eagle attacks the swan, it defends itself and comes off victo-
rious, but will not commence the fight. Swans have the
power of song, especially when near the end of their life;
for they then flv out to sea, and some persons, sailing near
the coast of Libya, have met many of them in the sea sing-
ing a mournful song, and have afterwards seen some of
them die.

8. The cymindis is seldom seen, for it inhabits mountains.
It is black, and about the sise of the hawk called pigeon
hawk. Its form is long and slif^ht (It shines with a
metallic lustrsi wherefore also it is called chalds.) The
I<mians call it cymindis: wherefore Homer writes in the
'Iliad, *^the bird which the gods call chalds, and mortels
epDJOkik/* (Booie persons say that the hybxis is the i


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B. IX.] TUS UI8T0BT OF ahucals. 245 I

bird as the ptjiix.) Tbis bird does not show itself in the
day-time because its sight is dim; but it hunts its pmr
during the night like the eagle. It fights so fiercely win
the eagle that both are often taken alive by the shepherds*
It lays two eggs, and builds in rocks and caToms. Cranea
fi^ht so fiercely with each othw that these also are taken
aliTo by the i^epherds while they are fighting. Hie crane
lays two eggs.

Chaptxb XIT.

1. Thb jay changes its Toice frequently, for it utters a
different one, as we may say, almost every day ; it lays about
nine eggs ; it makes its nest upon trees, of luiir and wool ;
when the acorns fall, it conceals and stores them up. Many
persons have reported that the stork is fed by its young,
and some people say the merops also, and that they are fed
by the young, not only in their old age, but as soon as the
young birds are able to do so, and that the parents remain
within the nest ; in appearance, this bird is creen beneath
the wings, and blue above, as the kingfishw,ana its wings are
red at the extremity. It lays six or seven eggs in the autumn,
in muddy caverns, and digs as much as four cubits into the

2. The bird called chloris from being yellow beneath,
is of the size of the lark, and lays four or five eggs ; it
makes its nest of Symphytum, which it pulls up by the root,
and lines it with straw, hair, and wool. The bladcbird and
jay do the same, and line their nests with the same ma-
terials; the nest of the acanthyllis is also artfully con«
structed, for it is folded together like a ball of flax, uid has
a small entrance. And the natives of those places say that
there is a cinnamon bird, and that they bring the dnnamon
from the same places as the bird, and that it makes its nest
of it. It builds its nest in lofty trees and among their
branches, but the natives of the country tip their anewt
with lead, with which they destroy the nestS| and then pkk
oat the cinnamon jErom the other maionaL

CHApm xy. I

1. Tn halcyon is not much larger than a spermrr iti
eoloar is blue and green, and somewhat pniple ; itswhele


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:\ bodr is composed of these coloun as well as tbe wings and

'; necK, nor is any part without erery one of these colours.

' ; ' Its bill is somewhat yellow^ long, and sli^t ; this is its ez«

temal form. Its nest resembles the manne balls which are

called halosacluuD,' except in colour, for thej are red ; in form

'it resembles those sicjn f cucumbers) which hare long necks ;

^ ita size is that of areiy large sponge^ for some are greater,

others less. They are corered up, and hare a thidc solid

e; as well as the cavity ; it is not easily cut with a sharp
e, but when struck or broken with toe hand, it diyides
readily like the halosachnsD. The mouth is narrow, as it
were a small entrance, so that the sea-water cannot enter,
eyen if the sea is rough; its cayity is like that of the spouse;
the material of which the nest is composed is disputed, but
it appears to be {nrincipallT composed of the spines of the
belone, for the bird itselr liyes on fish. It also ascenda
riyers ; it does not produce more than fiye Offg* j it continuea
to reproduce throughout the whole of ita lue, nom the time
of bemg four months old.


1. Thb hoopoe generally makes its nest of human ordure.
It chan^ its appearance in summer and winter, like most
j other inld birds. The titmouse, as they say, lays the

I sreatest number of eggs, some say that the bird called me-

kncoryphus lays the greatest number of eggs after the Libyan
sparrow, seyenteen haye been obsenred, but it will produce
more than twenty, and, as they say, it always lays a great
many. This biraalso builds in trees, and liyes upon wonns.
It is characteristic of this bird, and the nightingale not to
haye any tip to their ton^e. The sgithus £» a good mode
of life,and is careful of its youns, but is lame upon its feet.
Qlie chlorion is a deyer and diugent bird, but its flight is
difficult, and its colours bad. .

2. The ele% like some other birds, haa an excellent mode
of Ufe, and dwells during the summer in groyes and in the
ahade^and during the winter in sunshine, perchinff upon the
reeds on the sidM of marshes. It is e small bird, with e
(ood Toioei
S» I3ie Urd called gnaphalus has a sweet yotce^ its oolqura
> Pkobal^J a Zoopli9H Akfjsoisb


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are beautifiil, its mode of life good, and ita form elegant;
it appears to be a foreign bird, for it is rarelj found in
places wbere there are no houses.

4. The disposition of the crex is nupacious, but it is in^
genious in providing for its own subsistence, Uiough other*
wise an unfortunate bird. The sttta is pugnacious, but ita
disposition is gentle and tractable, and its mode of life fjood.
It IS said to be medicinal, for it is skilful in manj tmngs.
It produces manj jroun^, which it treats with kindness, and
obtains its food by striking trees.

6. The little owl feeds during the night,and is rareljTisible
bjT day. It lires in rocks and cayems, for its food is of two
kinds ; and in disposition it is diligent and iusenious. There
is a small bird cfuled certbius, which is bold in disposition,
and lives on trees and eats the thrips (timber worm). In
disposition it is diligent in search of food, and its voice is
brilliant. The disposition and hue of the acanthis is bad,
but it has a shrill voice.

chaptee xvn.

1. Amovo the herons, as it was before observed, the black
heron copulates with diificultjr, but it is an ingenious bird.
It carries its food about, and is skilful in procuring it. It
works during the daj. Its colour, however, is bad, and ita
stomach always fluid. Of the other two (for thcro are three
kinds of them), the white heron is beautifully coloured and
copulates without pain, and builds its nest and attends ita
young carefully in trees. It inhabits marshes and lakes,
plains and meadows. The bittern, which is called ocnua
(the idle), is said in fables to have been originally a alave.
Its name indicates its very idle disposition.

2. The herons live in this manner. The bird called poyx
is peculiar, for it is ita disposition to eat the eyes of other ,

creatures, and is therefore the enemy of tiie harp% whidi
lives upon the same food.

CHAPrxB xvin.

}• Thibx are two kinds of cottyphus. The one is Uaek,
and is found everywhere; the other is white. In siae tbey .
are alilM, and their voice is very similar. The white one la
Ibund in Cyllene^ in Axcadia, and noiribeve else. The laua


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is similar to the block cottypbus, but is rather smaller. It
mi^es its house upon rocks and tiles. It has not a dark
beak, like the blackbird.

2. Of thrushes there are three forms. The one is called'
misselthrush, for it li?es upon nothing but miseltoe and lesin.
It is as lar^e as the citta ; the other is called fieldfare. The
Toice of this bird is shrill ; its size is that of the blackbird.
There is another kind, wluch some persons call illas, which
is smaller than the others and less variegated.

H. There is a certain bird living on rocks, which is called
blue thrush. This bird f^nenUj inhabits Scnrrus. It lives
upon the wing. It is lees than the blackbird, but larger than
^e finch. Its feet are black, and it climbs up upon rocks.
It is entirely blue. It has a smooth, long beak, but its legs
are short, and resemble those of the wooc^tecker.

Chaftsb XDL

I. Thv oriole is entirely of a yellowish green. This bird;
is not visible in the winter. It is seen in the greatest num-
bers at the summer soktice, and takes its departure when
Arcturus rises. It is of the same sise as the turtle. The
malacocraneus ^^>^> lurches upon the same place, and is
captured there. Tnis is its ap^arance : its head is large,
and has the form of cartilage ; its size is smaller than the
thrush; its beak is strong, small, and round ; its colour is
entirely cinereous ; its feet are strong, and its wings weak ;
it is generally captured by the owl.

2. There is another bird, called the pardalus, which is
generally gregarious, and a single bird is never seen. Its
colour IS entirely cinereous. In size it resembles those
already mentioned. Its feet are strong, and its wings are
not weak. Its voice is frequent and not deep. The coUy-
rion lives on the same food as the blackbird, and in size
much resembles those just named. It is generally taken in
the winter. These birds are visible all tl^ year round, and\
sd are those which live in the neighbourhood of towns, the
raven and crow; for these are always Tisible^ and neither
mimte nor conceal themselves.

8. Of the jackdaw there are iiiree kinds, one called eora-*
das, which is as large as the crow, and has a red heaik i'
nether is called lydusj there is idso » small one caUe4


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bomolochnt ; tbere it abo another kind of jackdaw in Lijiim
and Phrjgia which is web*footed.

4. Of tbe lark there are two kinda.^ One dwelb on
the ground, and has a crest. The other is ^pn^^ous, and

Online LibraryAristotleAristotle's History of animals. In ten books → online text (page 24 of 39)