Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 353: 396-397

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Pliny: Natural History


Anseres in aqua coeunt, pariunt vere aut, si bruma coiere, post solstitium, xl prope, bis anno si priorem fetum gallinae excludant, alio plurima ova sedecim, paucissima septem. si quis subripiat, pariunt donec 163rumpantur. aliena non excludunt. incubanda subici utilissimum novem aut undecim. incubant feminae tantum tricenis diebus, si vero tepidiores sint, xxv. pullis eorum urtica contactu mortifera, nec minus aviditas, nunc satietate nimia, nunc suamet vi, quando adprehensa radice morsu saepe conantes avellere ante colla sua abrumpunt. contra urticam remedium est stramento ab incubitu subdita radix earum.


Ardeolarum tria genera: leucon, asterias, pellos. hi in coitu anguntur: mares quidem cum vociferatu sanguinem etiam. ex oculis profundunt; nec minus 165aegre pariunt gravidae. aquila tricenis diebus incubat, et fere maiores alites, minores vicenis, ut milvus et accipiter. milvus binos1 fere parit, numquam plus ternos, is qui aegolios vocatur et quaternos, corvus aliquando et quinos; incubant totidem diebus. cornicem incubantem mas pascit. pica novenos, melancoryphus supra xx parit, semper numero inpari, nec alia plures: tanto fecunditas maior parvis.


Book X

Geese mate in the water; they lay in spring, orMating of geese. if they mated in midwinter, after midsummer; they lay nearly 40 eggs, twice in a year if the hens turn the first brood out of the nest, otherwise sixteen eggs at the most and seven at the fewest. If somebody removes the eggs, they go on laying till they burst. They do not turn strange eggs out of the nest. It pays best to put nine or eleven eggs for them to sit on. The hens sit only 30 days at a time, or if the days are rather warm, 25. The touch of a nettle is fatal to goslings, and not less so is their greediness, sometimes owing to their excessive gorging and sometimes owing to their own violence, when they have caught hold of a root in their beak and in their repeated attempts to tear it off break their own necks before they succeed. A nettle-root put under their straw after they have lain in it is a cure for nettle-sting.

There are three kinds of heron, the white, theMating of herons, eagles, kites, crows, magpies and swallows. speckled and the dark.a These birds suffer pain in mating, indeed the cocks give loud screams and even shed blood from their eyes; and the broody hens lay their eggs with equal difficulty. The eagle sits on her eggs for thirty days at a time, and so do the larger birds for the most part, but the smaller ones, for instance the kite and hawk, sit for twenty days. A kite’s brood usually numbers two chicks, never more than three, that of the bird called the merlin as many as four, and the raven’s occasionally even five; they sit for the same number of days. The hen crow is fed by the cock while sitting. The magpie’s brood numbers nine, the blackcap’sb over twenty and always an odd number, and no other bird has a larger brood: so much more prolific are

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938