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Of the vultures, the black ones1 are the strongest. No person has yet found a vulture's nest: hence it is that there are some who have thought, though erroneously, that these birds come from the opposite hemisphere.2 The fact is, that they build their nest upon the very highest rocks; their young ones, indeed, are often to be seen, being generally two in number. Umbricius, the most skilful among the aruspices of our time, says that the vulture lays thirteen eggs,3 and that with one of these eggs4 it purifies the others and its nest, and then throws it away: he states also that they hover about for three5 days, over the spot where carcases are about to be found.

1 The great European vulture.

2 Their nests are seldom seen, in consequence of being concealed in the crags of the highest mountains, the Pyrenees, for instance.

3 "Three" seems a better reading. Aristotle says "two."

4 Ovid, in his "Art of Love," speaks of the use of eggs in purifications made by lovesick damsels. See B. ii. 1. 330.

5 This story arises from the extreme acuteness of their power of smelling a dead body. The Egyptians said that the vulture foreknows the field of battle seven days.

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