Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Aristotle
Pages of History of Animals



Previous | Next
                  

History of Animals   


growing old, but at an early period, as soon as the young are
capable of feeding them; and the parent-birds stay inside the nest.
The under part of the bird's wing is pale yellow; the upper part is
dark blue, like that of the halcyon; the tips of the wings are About
autumn-time it lays six or seven eggs, in overhanging banks where
the soil is soft; there it burrows into the ground to a depth of six
feet.
The greenfinch, so called from the colour of its belly, is as
large as a lark; it lays four or five eggs, builds its nest out of the
plant called comfrey, pulling it up by the roots, and makes an
under-mattress to lie on of hair and wool. The blackbird and the jay
build their nests after the same fashion. The nest of the penduline
tit shows great mechanical skill; it has the appearance of a ball of
flax, and the hole for entry is very small.
People who live where the bird comes from say that there
exists a cinnamon bird which brings the cinnamon from some unknown
localities, and builds its nest out of it; it builds on high trees
on the slender top branches. They say that the inhabitants attach
leaden weights to the tips of their arrows and therewith bring down
the nests, and from the intertexture collect the cinnamon sticks.
14

The halcyon is not much larger than the sparrow. Its colour is
dark blue, green, and light purple; the whole body and wings, and
especially parts about the neck, show these colours in a mixed way,
without any colour being sharply defined; the beak is light green,
long and slender: such, then, is the look of the bird. Its nest is
like sea-balls, i.e. the things that by the name of halosachne or
seafoam, only the colour is not the same. The colour of the nest is
light red, and the shape is that of the long-necked gourd. The nests
are larger than the largest sponge, though they vary in size; they are
roofed over, and great part of them is solid and great part hollow. If
you use a sharp knife it is not easy to cut the nest through; but if
you cut it, and at the same time bruise it with your hand, it will
soon crumble to pieces, like the halosachne. The opening is small,
just enough for a tiny entrance, so that even if the nest upset the
sea does not enter in; the hollow channels are like those in
sponges. It is not known for certain of what material the nest is
constructed; it is possibly made of the backbones of the gar-fish;
for, by the way, the bird lives on fish. Besides living on the
shore, it ascends fresh-water streams. It lays generally about five
eggs, and lays eggs all its life long, beginning to do so at the age
of four months.
15

The hoopoe usually constructs its nest out of human excrement.
It changes its appearance in summer and in winter, as in fact do the
great majority of wild birds. (The titmouse is said to lay a very
large quantity of eggs: next to the ostrich the blackheaded tit is
said by some to lay the largest number of eggs; seventeen eggs have
been seen; it lays, however, more than twenty; it is said always to
lay an odd number. Like others we have mentioned, it builds in
trees; it feeds on caterpillars.) A peculiarity of this bird and of
the nightingale is that the outer extremity of the tongue is not
sharp-pointed.
The aegithus finds its food with ease, has many young, and walks
with a limp. The golden oriole is apt at learning, is clever at making
a living, but is awkward in flight and has an ugly plumage.
16

The reed-warbler makes its living as easily as any other bird,
sits in summer in a shady spot facing the wind, in winter in a sunny
and sheltered place among reeds in a marsh; it is small in size,
with a pleasant note. The so-called chatterer has a pleasant note,

Previous | Next
Site Search