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Having spoken of the emigration of these birds over sea and land, I cannot allow myself to defer mentioning some other birds of smaller size, which have the same natural instinct: although in the case of those which I have already mentioned, their very size and strength would almost seem to invite them to such habits. The quail, which always arrives among us even before the crane, is a small bird, and when it has once arrived, more generally keeps to the ground than flies aloft. These birds fly also in a similar manner to those I have already spoken of, and not without considerable danger to mariners, when they come near the surface of the earth: for it often happens that they settle on the sails of a ship, and that too always in the night: the consequence of which is, that the vessel often sinks. These birds pursue their course along a tract of country with certain resting-places. When the south wind is blowing, they will not fly, as that wind is always humid, and apt to weigh them down. Still, however, it is an object with them to get a breeze to assist them in their flight, the body being so light, and their strength so very limited: hence it is that we hear them make that murmuring noise as they fly, it being extorted from them by fatigue. It is for this reason also, that they take to flight more especially when the north wind is blowing, having the ortygometra1 for their leader. The first of them that approaches the earth is generally snapped up by the hawk. When they are about to return from these parts, they always invite other birds to join their company, and the glottis, otus, and cychramus, yielding to their persuasions, take their departure along with them.

The glottis2 protrudes a tongue of remarkable length, from which circumstance it derives its name: at first it is quite pleased with the journey, and sets out with the greatest ardour; very soon, however, when it begins to feel the fatigues of the flight, it is overtaken by regret, while at the same time it is equally as 10th to return alone, as to accompany the others. Its travels, however, never last more than a single day, for at the very first resting-place they come to, it deserts: here too it finds other birds, which have been left behind in a similar manner in the preceding year. The same takes place with other birds day after day. The cychramus,3 however, is much more persevering, and is quite in a hurry to arrive at the land which is its destination: hence it is that it arouses the quails in the night, and reminds them that they ought to be on the road.

The otus is a smaller bird than the horned owl, though larger than the owlet; it has feathers projecting like ears, whence its name. Some persons call it in the Latin language the "asio;"4 in general it is a bird fond of mimicking, a great parasite, and, in some measure, a dancer as well. Like the owlet, it is taken without any difficulty; for while one person occupies its attention, another goes behind, and catches it.

If the wind, by its contrary blasts, should begin to prevent the onward progress of the flight, the birds immediately take up small stones, or else fill their throats with sand, and so contrive to ballast themselves as they fly. The seeds of a certain venomous plant5 are most highly esteemed by the quails as food; for which reason it is that they have been banished from our tables; in addition to which, a great repugnance is manifested to eating their flesh, on account of the epilepsy,6 to which alone of all animals, with the exception of man, the quail is subject.

1 The "mother of the quails." Frederic II., in his work, De Arte Venandi, calls the "rallus," or "rail," the "leader of the quails."

2 From γλωττὰ, " a tongue." It is not known what bird is alluded to.

3 Bellon thinks that this is the proyer, or prayer, of the French; Aldrovandus considers it to be the ortolan.

4 Gesner suggests from "asinus," an "ass;" its feathers sticking up like the ears of that animal. Dalechamps thinks it is because its voice resembles the braying of an ass; the name "otus" is from the Greek for "ear."

5 Either hemlock or hellebore.

6 "Despuisuetum." See B. xxviii. c. 7. As Hardouin says, in modern times they are considered delicate eating; but Schenkius, Obsers. Med. B. i., states, that if the bird has eaten hellebore, epilepsy is the consequence to the person who partakes of its flesh.

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