CHAP. 50.—THE ACANTHYLLIS AND OTHER BIRDS.
Belonging to the genus of birds known as the " vitiparræ,"
there is one1
whose nest is formed of dried moss,2
and is in
shape so exactly like a ball, that it is impossible to discover
the mouth of it. The bird, also, that is known as the acanthyllis,3
makes its nest of a similar shape, and interweaves it
with pieces of flax. The nest of one of the woodpeckers, very
much like a cup in shape, is suspended by a twig from the end
of the branch of a tree, so that no quadruped may be able to
reach it. It is strongly asserted, that the witwall4
suspended by its feet, because it fancies that by doing so it is
in greater safety. A thing, indeed, that is well-known of them
all, is the fact that, in a spirit of foresight, they select the projecting branches of trees that are sufficiently strong, for the
purpose of supporting their nests, and then arch them over to
protect them from the rain, or else shield them by means of the
thickness of the foliage.
In Arabia there is a bird known as the "cinnamolgus."5
It builds its nest with sprigs of cinnamon; and the natives
knock them down with arrows loaded with lead, in order to
sell them. In Scythia there is a bird, the size of the otis,
which produces two young ones always, in a hare's skin suspended6
from the top branches of a tree. Pies, when they
have observed a person steadily gazing at their nest, will immediately remove their eggs to another place. This is said to
be accomplished in a truly wonderful manner, by such birds as
have not toes adapted for holding and removing their eggs.
They lay a twig upon two eggs, and then solder them to it by
means of a glutinous matter secreted from their body; after
which, they pass their neck between the eggs, and so forming
an equipoise, convey them to another place.