History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


Birds of the pigeon kind, such as the ring-dove and the turtle-dove, lay two eggs at a time; that is to say, they do so as a general rule, and they never lay more than three. The pigeon, as has been said, lays at all seasons; the ring-dove and the turtle-dove lay in the spring-time, and they never lay more than twice in the same season. The hen-bird lays the second pair of eggs when the first pair happens to have been destroyed, for many of the hen-pigeons destroy the first brood. The hen-pigeon, as has been said, occasionally lays three eggs, but it never rears more than two chicks, and sometimes rears only one; and the odd one is always a wind-egg.

Very few birds propagate within their first year. All birds, after once they have begun laying, keep on having eggs, though in the case of some birds it is difficult to detect the fact from the minute size of the creature.

The pigeon, as a rule, lays a male and a female egg, and generally lays the male egg first; after laying it allows a day’s interval to ensue and then lays the second egg. The male takes its turn of sitting during the daytime; the female sits during the night. The first-laid egg is hatched and brought to birth within twenty days; and the mother bird pecks a hole in the egg the day before she hatches it out. The two parent birds brood for some time over the chicks in the way in which they brooded previously over the eggs. In all connected with the rearing of the young the female parent is more cross-tempered than the male, as is the case with most animals after parturition. The hens lay as many as ten times in the year; occasional instances have been known of their laying eleven times, and in Egypt they actually lay twelve times. The pigeon, male and female, couples within the year; in fact, it couples when only six months old. Some assert that ring-doves and turtle-doves pair and procreate when only three months old, and instance their superabundant numbers by way of proof of the assertion. The hen-pigeon carries her eggs fourteen days; for as many more days the parent birds hatch the eggs; by the end of another fourteen days the chicks are so far capable of flight as to be overtaken with difficulty. [The ring-dove, according to all accounts, lives up to forty years. The partridge lives over sixteen.] [After one brood the pigeon is ready for another within thirty days.]


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Chicago: Aristotle, "4," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson Original Sources, accessed January 30, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8DKS9CUFGDW5TPG.

MLA: Aristotle. "4." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Original Sources. 30 Jan. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8DKS9CUFGDW5TPG.

Harvard: Aristotle, '4' in History of Animals, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 30 January 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8DKS9CUFGDW5TPG.