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The cuckoo seems to be but another form of the hawk,1 which at a certain season of the year changes its shape; it being the fact that during this period no other hawks are to be seen, except, perhaps, for a few days only; the cuckoo, too, itself is only seen for a short period in the summer, and does not make its appearance after. It is the only one among the hawks that has not hooked talons; neither is it like the rest of them in the head, or, indeed, in any other respect, except the colour only, while in the beak it bears a stronger resemblance to the pigeon. In addition to this, it is devoured by the hawk, if they chance at any time to meet; this being the only one among the whole race of birds that is preyed upon by those of its own kind. It changes its voice also with its appearance, comes out in the spring, and goes into retirement at the rising of the Dog-star. It always lays its eggs in the nest of another bird, and that of the ring-dove2 more especially,-mostly a single egg, a thing that is the case with no other bird; sometimes however, but very rarely, it is known to lay two. It is supposed, that the reason for its thus substituting its young ones, is the fact that it is aware3 how greatly it is hated by all the other birds; for even the very smallest of them will attack it. Hence it is, that it thinks its own race will stand no chance of being perpetuated unless it contrives to deceive them, and for this reason builds no nest of its own: and besides this, it is a very timid animal. In the meantime, the female bird, sitting on her nest, is rearing a supposititious and spurious progeny; while the young cuckoo, which is naturally craving and greedy, snatches away all the food from the other young ones, and by so doing grows plump and sleek, and quite gains the affections of his foster-mother; who takes a great pleasure in his fine appearance, and is quite surprised that she has become the mother of so handsome an offspring. In comparison with him, she discards her own young as so many strangers, until at last, when the young cuckoo is now able to take the wing, he finishes by devouring4 her. For sweetness of the flesh, there is not a bird in existence to be compared to the cuckoo at this season.

1 Cuvier says, that this notion is still entertained by the French peasantry.

2 This is not the case. It only lays in the nests of insectivorous birds.

3 Cuvier remarks, that this is not a very good reason; but we have not yet been able to find a better.

4 Cuvier denies this story, but says, that when the foster-mother is a very small bird, the young cuckoo will take the whole of her head in his beak when receiving food.

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