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History of Animals   


than the female; but in the case of pigeons some assert that the
male dies before the female, taking their inference from the
statements of persons who keep decoy-birds in captivity. Some
declare that the male sparrow lives only a year, pointing to the
fact that early in spring the male sparrow has no black beard, but has
one later on, as though the blackbearded birds of the last year had
all died out; they also say that the females are the longer lived,
on the grounds that they are caught in amongst the young birds and
that their age is rendered manifest by the hardness about their beaks.
Turtle-doves in summer live in cold places, (and in warm places during
the winter); chaffinches affect warm habitations in summer and cold
ones in winter.
8

Birds of a heavy build, such as quails, partridges, and the
like, build no nests; indeed, where they are incapable of flight, it
would be of no use if they could do so. After scraping a hole on a
level piece of ground-and it is only in such a place that they lay
their eggs-they cover it over with thorns and sticks for security
against hawks and eagles, and there lay their eggs and hatch them;
after the hatching is over, they at once lead the young out from the
nest, as they are not able to fly afield for food for them. Quails and
partridges, like barn-door hens, when they go to rest, gather their
brood under their wings. Not to be discovered, as might be the case if
they stayed long in one spot, they do not hatch the eggs where they
laid them. When a man comes by chance upon a young brood, and tries to
catch them, the hen-bird rolls in front of the hunter, pretending to
be lame: the man every moment thinks he is on the point of catching
her, and so she draws him on and on, until every one of her brood
has had time to escape; hereupon she returns to the nest and calls the
young back. The partridge lays not less than ten eggs, and often
lays as many as sixteen. As has been observed, the bird has
mischievous and deceitful habits. In the spring-time, a noisy
scrimmage takes place, out of which the male-birds emerge each with
a hen. Owing to the lecherous nature of the bird, and from a dislike
to the hen sitting, the males, if they find any eggs, roll them over
and over until they break them in pieces; to provide against this
the female goes to a distance and lays the eggs, and often, under
the stress of parturition, lays them in any chance spot that offers;
if the male be near at hand, then to keep the eggs intact she refrains
from visiting them. If she be seen by a man, then, just as with her
fledged brood, she entices him off by showing herself close at his
feet until she has drawn him to a distance. When the females have
run away and taken to sitting, the males in a pack take to screaming
and fighting; when thus engaged, they have the nickname of 'widowers'.
The bird who is beaten follows his victor, and submits to be covered
by him only; and the beaten bird is covered by a second one or by
any other, only clandestinely without the victor's knowledge; this
is so, not at all times, but at a particular season of the year, and
with quails as well as with partridges. A similar proceeding takes
place occasionally with barn-door cocks: for in temples, where cocks
are set apart as dedicate without hens, they all as a matter of course
tread any new-comer. Tame partridges tread wild birds, pecket their
heads, and treat them with every possible outrage. The leader of the
wild birds, with a counter-note of challenge, pushes forward to attack
the decoy-bird, and after he has been netted, another advances with
a similar note. This is what is done if the decoy be a male; but if it
be a female that is the decoy and gives the note, and the leader of
the wild birds give a counter one, the rest of the males set upon
him and chase him away from the female for making advances to her
instead of to them; in consequence of this the male often advances
without uttering any cry, so that no other may hear him and come and
give him battle; and experienced fowlers assert that sometimes the
male bird, when he approaches the female, makes her keep silence, to

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