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History of Animals   


her own young owing to the beauty of the cuckoo. Personal observers
agree in telling most of these stories, but are not in agreement as to
the instruction of the young. Some say that the mother-cuckoo comes
and devours the brood of the rearing mother; others say that the young
cuckoo from its superior size snaps up the food brought before the
smaller brood have a chance, and that in consequence the smaller brood
die of hunger; others say that, by its superior strength, it
actually kills the other ones whilst it is being reared up with
them. The cuckoo shows great sagacity in the disposal of its
progeny; the fact is, the mother cuckoo is quite conscious of her
own cowardice and of the fact that she could never help her young
one in an emergency, and so, for the security of the young one, she
makes of him a supposititious child in an alien nest. The truth is,
this bird is pre-eminent among birds in the way of cowardice; it
allows itself to be pecked at by little birds, and flies away from
their attacks.
30

It has already been stated that the footless bird, which some term
the cypselus, resembles the swallow; indeed, it is not easy to
distinguish between the two birds, excepting in the fact that the
cypselus has feathers on the shank. These birds rear their young in
long cells made of mud, and furnished with a hole just big enough
for entry and exit; they build under cover of some roofing-under a
rock or in a cavern-for protection against animals and men.
The so-called goat-sucker lives on mountains; it is a little
larger than the owsel, and less than the cuckoo; it lays two eggs,
or three at the most, and is of a sluggish disposition. It flies up to
the she-goat and sucks its milk, from which habit it derives its name;
it is said that, after it has sucked the teat of the animal, the
teat dries up and the animal goes blind. It is dim-sighted in the
day-time, but sees well enough by night.
31

In narrow circumscribed districts where the food would be
insufficient for more birds than two, ravens are only found in
isolated pairs; when their young are old enough to fly, the parent
couple first eject them from the nest, and by and by chase them from
the neighbourhood. The raven lays four or five eggs. About the time
when the mercenaries under Medius were slaughtered at Pharsalus, the
districts about Athens and the Peloponnese were left destitute of
ravens, from which it would appear that these birds have some means of
intercommunicating with one another.
32

Of eagles there are several species. One of them, called 'the
white-tailed eagle', is found on low lands, in groves, and in the
neighbourhood of cities; some call it the 'heron-killer'. It is bold
enough to fly to mountains and the interior of forests. The other
eagles seldom visit groves or low-lying land. There is another species
called the 'plangus'; it ranks second in point of size and strength;
it lives in mountain combes and glens, and by marshy lakes, and goes
by the name of 'duck-killer' and 'swart-eagle.' It is mentioned by
Homer in his account of the visit made by Priam to the tent of
Achilles. There is another species with black Plumage, the smallest
but boldest of all the kinds. It dwells on mountains or in forests,
and is called 'the black-eagle' or 'the hare-killer'; it is the only
eagle that rears its young and thoroughly takes them out with it. It
is swift of flight, is neat and tidy in its habits, too proud for
jealousy, fearless, quarrelsome; it is also silent, for it neither
whimpers nor screams. There is another species, the percnopterus, very
large, with white head, very short wings, long tail-feathers, in
appearance like a vulture. It goes by the name of 'mountain-stork'
or 'half-eagle'. It lives in groves; has all the bad qualities of

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