History of Animals
in some hole or other and is never seen. The rock-dove is chiefly
visible in the autumn, and is caught at that season; it is larger than
the common pigeon but smaller than the wild one; it is generally
caught while drinking. These pigeons bring their young ones with
them when they visit this country. All our other birds come to us in
the early summer and build their nests here, and the greater part of
them rear their young on animal food, with the sole exception of the
pigeon and its varieties.
The whole genus of birds may be pretty well divided into such as
procure their food on dry land, such as frequent rivers and lakes, and
such as live on or by the sea.
Of water-birds such as are web-footed live actually on the
water, while such as are split-footed live by the edge of it-and, by
the way, water-birds that are not carnivorous live on water-plants,
(but most of them live on fish), like the heron and the spoonbill that
frequent the banks of lakes and rivers; and the spoonbill, by the way,
is less than the common heron, and has a long flat bill. There are
furthermore the stork and the seamew; and the seamew, by the way, is
ashen-coloured. There is also the schoenilus, the cinclus, and the
white-rump. Of these smaller birds the last mentioned is the
largest, being about the size of the common thrush; all three may be
described as 'wag-tails'. Then there is the scalidris, with plumage
ashen-grey, but speckled. Moreover, the family of the halcyons or
kingfishers live by the waterside. Of kingfishers there are two
varieties; one that sits on reeds and sings; the other, the larger
of the two, is without a note. Both these varieties are blue on the
back. There is also the trochilus (or sandpiper). The halcyon also,
including a variety termed the cerylus, is found near the seaside. The
crow also feeds on such animal life as is cast up on the beach, for
the bird is omnivorous. There are also the white gull, the cepphus,
the aethyia, and the charadrius.
Of web-footed birds, the larger species live on the banks of
rivers and lakes; as the swan, the duck, the coot, the grebe, and
the teal-a bird resembling the duck but less in size-and the
water-raven or cormorant. This bird is the size of a stork, only
that its legs are shorter; it is web-footed and is a good swimmer; its
plumage is black. It roosts on trees, and is the only one of all
such birds as these that is found to build its nest in a tree. Further
there is the large goose, the little gregarious goose, the
vulpanser, the horned grebe, and the penelops. The sea-eagle lives
in the neighbourhood of the sea and seeks its quarry in lagoons.
A great number of birds are omnivorous. Birds of prey feed on
any animal or bird, other than a bird of prey, that they may catch.
These birds never touch one of their own genus, whereas fishes often
devour members actually of their own species.
Birds, as a rule, are very spare drinkers. In fact birds of prey
never drink at all, excepting a very few, and these drink very rarely;
and this last observation is peculiarly applicable to the kestrel. The
kite has been seen to drink, but he certainly drinks very seldom.
Animals that are coated with tessellates-such as the lizard and
the other quadrupeds, and the serpents-are omnivorous: at all events
they are carnivorous and graminivorous; and serpents, by the way,
are of all animals the greatest gluttons.
Tessellated animals are spare drinkers, as are also all such
animals as have a spongy lung, and such a lung, scantily supplied with
blood, is found in all oviparous animals. Serpents, by the by, have an
insatiate appetite for wine; consequently, at times men hunt for
snakes by pouring wine into saucers and putting them into the
interstices of walls, and the creatures are caught when inebriated.
Serpents are carnivorous, and whenever they catch an animal they
extract all its juices and eject the creature whole. And, by the
way, this is done by all other creatures of similar habits, as for