History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


The halcyon is not much larger than the sparrow. Its colour is dark blue, green, and light purple; the whole body and wings, and especially parts about the neck, show these colours in a mixed way, without any colour being sharply defined; the beak is light green, long and slender: such, then, is the look of the bird. Its nest is like sea-balls, i.e. the things that by the name of halosachne or sea-foam, only the colour is not the same. The colour of the nest is light red, and the shape is that of the long-necked gourd. The nests are larger than the largest sponge, though they vary in size; they are roofed over, and great part of them is solid and great part hollow. If you use a sharp knife it is not easy to cut the nest through; but if you cut it, and at the same time bruise it with your hand, it will soon crumble to pieces, like the halosachne. The opening is small, just enough for a tiny entrance, so that even if the nest upset the sea does not enter in; the hollow channels are like those in sponges. It is not known for certain of what material the nest is constructed; it is possibly made of the backbones of the gar-fish; for, by the way, the bird lives on fish. Besides living on the shore, it ascends fresh-water streams. It lays generally about five eggs, and lays eggs all its life long, beginning to do so at the age of four months.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "14," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson Original Sources, accessed February 4, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PBTBVYGLH3US1N.

MLA: Aristotle. "14." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Original Sources. 4 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PBTBVYGLH3US1N.

Harvard: Aristotle, '14' in History of Animals, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 4 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PBTBVYGLH3US1N.