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



Previous | Next
                  

History of Animals   


nest, and is of a kindly disposition. It rears its own young and those
of the eagle as well; for when the eagle ejects its young from the
nest, this bird catches them up as they fall and feeds them. For the
eagle, by the way, ejects the young birds prematurely, before they are
able to feed themselves, or to fly. It appears to do so from jealousy;
for it is by nature jealous, and is so ravenous as to grab furiously
at its food; and when it does grab at its food, it grabs it in large
morsels. It is accordingly jealous of the young birds as they approach
maturity, since they are getting good appetites, and so it scratches
them with its talons. The young birds fight also with one another,
to secure a morsel of food or a comfortable position, whereupon the
mother-bird beats them and ejects them from the nest; the young ones
scream at this treatment, and the phene hearing them catches them as
they fall. The phene has a film over its eyes and sees badly, but
the sea-eagle is very keen-sighted, and before its young are fledged
tries to make them stare at the sun, and beats the one that refuses to
do so, and twists him back in the sun's direction; and if one of
them gets watery eyes in the process, it kills him, and rears the
other. It lives near the sea, and feeds, as has been said, on
sea-birds; when in pursuit of them it catches them one by one,
watching the moment when the bird rises to the surface from its
dive. When a sea-bird, emerging from the water, sees the sea-eagle, he
in terror dives under, intending to rise again elsewhere; the eagle,
however, owing to its keenness of vision, keeps flying after him until
he either drowns the bird or catches him on the surface. The eagle
never attacks these birds when they are in a swarm, for they keep
him off by raising a shower of water-drops with their wings.
35

The cepphus is caught by means of sea-foam; the bird snaps at
the foam, and consequently fishermen catch it by sluicing with showers
of sea-water. These birds grow to be plump and fat; their flesh has
a good odour, excepting the hinder quarters, which smell of shoreweed.
36

Of hawks, the strongest is the buzzard; the next in point of
courage is the merlin; and the circus ranks third; other diverse kinds
are the asterias, the pigeon-hawk, and the pternis; the broaded-winged
hawk is called the half-buzzard; others go by the name of
hobby-hawk, or sparrow-hawk, or 'smooth-feathered', or 'toad-catcher'.
Birds of this latter species find their food with very little
difficulty, and flutter along the ground. Some say that there are
ten species of hawks, all differing from one another. One hawk, they
say, will strike and grab the pigeon as it rests on the ground, but
never touch it while it is in flight; another hawk attacks the
pigeon when it is perched upon a tree or any elevation, but never
touches it when it is on the ground or on the wing; other hawks attack
their prey only when it is on the wing. They say that pigeons can
distinguish the various species: so that, when a hawk is an assailant,
if it be one that attacks its prey when the prey is on the wing, the
pigeon will sit still; if it be one that attacks sitting prey, the
pigeon will rise up and fly away.
In Thrace, in the district sometimes called that of Cedripolis,
men hunt for little birds in the marshes with the aid of hawks. The
men with sticks in their hands go beating at the reeds and brushwood
to frighten the birds out, and the hawks show themselves overhead
and frighten them down. The men then strike them with their sticks and
capture them. They give a portion of their booty to the hawks; that
is, they throw some of the birds up in the air, and the hawks catch
them.
In the neighbourhood of Lake Maeotis, it is said, wolves act
in concert with the fishermen, and if the fishermen decline to share
with them, they tear their nets in pieces as they lie drying on the
shore of the lake.

Previous | Next
Site Search