History of Animals

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 350 BC


The woodpecker does not squat on the ground, but pecks at the bark of trees to drive out from under it maggots and gnats; when they emerge, it licks them up with its tongue, which is large and flat. It can run up and down a tree in any way, even with the head downwards, like the gecko-lizard. For secure hold upon a tree, its claws are better adapted than those of the daw; it makes its way by sticking these claws into the bark. One species of woodpecker is smaller than a blackbird, and has small reddish speckles; a second species is larger than the blackbird, and a third is not much smaller than a barn-door hen. It builds a nest on trees, as has been said, on olive trees amongst others. It feeds on the maggots and ants that are under the bark: it is so eager in the search for maggots that it is said sometimes to hollow a tree out to its downfall. A woodpecker once, in course of domestication, was seen to insert an almond into a hole in a piece of timber, so that it might remain steady under its pecking; at the third peck it split the shell of the fruit, and then ate the kernel.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "Book 9, Chapter 9," History of Animals, trans. D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson Original Sources, accessed June 14, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UTKK6CY6I9LZ6FX.

MLA: Aristotle. "Book 9, Chapter 9." History of Animals, translted by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Original Sources. 14 Jun. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UTKK6CY6I9LZ6FX.

Harvard: Aristotle, 'Book 9, Chapter 9' in History of Animals, trans. . Original Sources, retrieved 14 June 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UTKK6CY6I9LZ6FX.