Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
From Aristotle's History of Animals, Book IX:
There is enmity between such animals as dwell in the same localities or subsist on the food...
There is enmity also between the owl and the wren; for the latter also devours the owl's eggs. In the daytime all other little birds flutter round the owl-a practice which is popularly termed 'admiring him'-buffet him, and pluck out his feathers; in consequence of this habit, bird-catchers use the owl as a decoy for catching little birds of all kinds.
The so-called presbys or 'old man' is at war with the weasel and the crow, for they prey on her eggs and her brood; and so the turtle-dove with the pyrallis, for they live in the same districts and on the same food; and so with the green wood pecker and the libyus; and so with kite and the raven, for, owing to his having the advantage from stronger talons and more rapid flight the former can steal whatever the latter is holding, so that it is food also that makes enemies of these. In like manner there is war between birds that get their living from the sea, as between the brenthus, the gull, and the harpe; and so between the buzzard on one side and the toad and snake on the other, for the buzzard preys upon the eggs of the two others; and so between the turtle-dove and the chloreus; the chloreus kills the dove, and the crow kills the so-called drummer-bird.
The aegolius, and birds of prey in general, prey upon the calaris, and consequently there is war between it and them; and so is there war between the gecko-lizard and the spider, for the former preys upon the latter; and so between the woodpecker and the heron, for the former preys upon the eggs and brood of the latter. And so between the aegithus and the ass, owing to the fact that the ass, in passing a furze-bush, rubs its sore and itching parts against the prickles; by so doing, and all the more if it brays, it topples the eggs and the brood out of the nest, the young ones tumble out in fright, and the mother-bird, to avenge this wrong, flies at the beast and pecks at his sore places.