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Nor yet must I pass by the birds1 of Diomedes in silence. Juba calls these birds "cataractæ," and says that they have teeth and eyes of a fiery colour, while the rest of the body is white: that they always have two chiefs, the one to lead the main body, the other to take charge of the rear; that they excavate holes with their bills, and then cover them with hurdles, which they cover again with the earth that has been thus thrown up; that it is in these places they hatch their young; that each of these holes has two outlets; that one of them looks towards the east, and that by it they go forth to feed, returning by the one which looks towards the west; and that when about to ease themselves, they always take to the wing, and fly against the wind. In one spot only throughout the whole earth are these birds to be seen, in the island, namely, which we have mentioned2 as famous for the tomb and shrine of Diomedes, lying over against the coast of Apulia: they bear a strong resemblance to the coot. When strangers who are barbarians arrive on that island, they pursue them with loud and clamorous cries, and only show courtesy to Greeks by birth; seeming thereby, with a wonderful discernment, to pay respect to them as the fellow-countrymen of Diomedes. Every day they fill their throats, and cover their feathers, with water, and so wash and purify the temple there. From this circumstance arises the fable3 that the companions of Diomedes were metamorphosed into these birds.

1 Cuvier is inclined to think that the Anas tadorna approaches most nearly the description given here. From Ovid's description of their hard and pointed bills and claws, it would appear that a petrel (Procellaria), or else a white heron (Ardea garzetta), is intended; but these birds, he remarks, do not make holes in the earth. Linnæus has given the name of Diomedea exulans to the albatross, a bird of the Antarctic seas, which cannot have been known to the ancients.

2 B. iii. c. 29.

3 See Ovid's Met. B. xiii.

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