Table of Contents:
“But it is a very ill-disposed and cunning animal; and moreover it is much devoted to amatory enjoyments; on which account it breaks the eggs of its hen, that it may not be deprived of her while she is hatching them; and therefore the hen, knowing this, runs away and hides her eggs.” And Callimachus gives the same account in his treatise on Birds. And the single birds fight with one another, and the one which is defeated becomes the mate of the conqueror. But Aristotle says that they all in turn use the bird which has been defeated as their mate, and that the tame birds also [p. 613] take the wild ones for their mates. And the bird which is defeated by the other patiently allows itself to be treated by him as his mate. And this happens at a particular time of the year, as is also stated by Alexander the Myndian. And they lay their eggs on the ground, both the cocks and the hens making themselves separate nests. And the leader of the wild birds attacks the decoy partridge, and when he is taken another comes forward to fight the decoy bird; and this is done whenever the bird used for the decoy is a cock bird; but when a hen is employed for the purpose, then she crows till the leader of the wild birds meets her, and the rest of the wild birds assemble and drive him away from the hen, because he is attending to her and not to them; on which account sometimes he advances without making any noise, in order that no other bird may hear his voice and come to fight him. And sometimes the hen also checks the crowing of the cock as he comes up:1 and very often when she is sitting on her nest she gets off it on perceiving the cock approaching the decoy bird, and remains there to receive his embraces in order to draw him away from the decoy bird. And so very eager to propagate their species are both quails and partridges, that they fall into the hands of the hunters on that account, sitting on the tiles. They say, too, that when hen partridges are taken out to hunt, even when they see or smell a cock standing or flying down the wind, become pregnant, and some say that they immediately begin to lay eggs. And about breeding time they fly about with their mouths open, putting out their tongues, both hens and cocks. And Clearchus says, in his treatise on Panic Fear,—“Sparrows and partridges, and also the common barn-door fowl and the quail, are eager to propagate their species, not only the moment that they see the hen, but even as soon as hey hear her voice. And the cause of this is the excessive impression made on their minds by amatory pleasures and proximity. And you may see more easily all that takes place with respect to the propagation of their species if you put a looking-glass opposite to them. For they run forward, being deceived by the appearance, and behave as if they saw a hen, and so are caught. Only the common poultry cock does not [p. 614] do so. But the perception of the reflected image operates on them only so far as to make them wish to fight.” And this is the statement of Clearchus.
1 Schweighaeuser thinks, with apparent reason, that there is some corruption in the text here.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.