History of Animals
inasmuch as they feed on every kind of juice, as for instance, the
common fly; others are blood-suckers, such as the gadfly and the
horse-fly, others again live on the juices of fruits and plants. The
bee is the only insect that invariably eschews whatever is rotten;
it will touch no article of food unless it have a sweet-tasting juice,
and it is particularly fond of drinking water if it be found
bubbling up clear from a spring underground.
So much for the food of animals of the leading genera.
The habits of animals are all connected with either breeding and
the rearing of young, or with the procuring a due supply of food;
and these habits are modified so as to suit cold and heat and the
variations of the seasons. For all animals have an instinctive
perception of the changes of temperature, and, just as men seek
shelter in houses in winter, or as men of great possessions spend
their summer in cool places and their winter in sunny ones, so also
all animals that can do so shift their habitat at various seasons.
Some creatures can make provision against change without
stirring from their ordinary haunts; others migrate, quitting Pontus
and the cold countries after the autumnal equinox to avoid the
approaching winter, and after the spring equinox migrating from warm
lands to cool lands to avoid the coming heat. In some cases they
migrate from places near at hand, in others they may be said to come
from the ends of the world, as in the case of the crane; for these
birds migrate from the steppes of Scythia to the marshlands south of
Egypt where the Nile has its source. And it is here, by the way,
that they are said to fight with the pygmies; and the story is not
fabulous, but there is in reality a race of dwarfish men, and the
horses are little in proportion, and the men live in caves
underground. Pelicans also migrate, and fly from the Strymon to the
Ister, and breed on the banks of this river. They depart in flocks,
and the birds in front wait for those in the rear, owing to the fact
that when the flock is passing over the intervening mountain range,
the birds in the rear lose sight of their companions in the van.
Fishes also in a similar manner shift their habitat now out of
the Euxine and now into it. In winter they move from the outer sea
in towards land in quest of heat; in summer they shift from shallow
waters to the deep sea to escape the heat.
Weakly birds in winter and in frosty weather come down to the
plains for warmth, and in summer migrate to the hills for coolness.
The more weakly an animal is the greater hurry will it be in to
migrate on account of extremes of temperature, either hot or cold;
thus the mackerel migrates in advance of the tunnies, and the quail in
advance of the cranes. The former migrates in the month of Boedromion,
and the latter in the month of Maemacterion. All creatures are
fatter in migrating from cold to heat than in migrating from heat to
cold; thus the quail is fatter when he emigrates in autumn than when
he arrives in spring. The migration from cold countries is
contemporaneous with the close of the hot season. Animals are in
better trim for breeding purposes in spring-time, when they change
from hot to cool lands.
Of birds, the crane, as has been said, migrates from one end of
the world to the other; they fly against the wind. The story told
about the stone is untrue: to wit, that the bird, so the story goes,
carries in its inside a stone by way of ballast, and that the stone
when vomited up is a touchstone for gold.
The cushat and the rock-dove migrate, and never winter in our
country, as is the case also with the turtle-dove; the common
pigeon, however, stays behind. The quail also migrates; only, by the
way, a few quails and turtle-doves may stay behind here and there in
sunny districts. Cushats and turtle-doves flock together, both when
they arrive and when the season for migration comes round again.
When quails come to land, if it be fair weather or if a north wind