« ZurückWeiter »
Why were peacocks and pheasants the peculiar food of knights?
Because they were said to be the nutriment of lovers, and the viand of worthies. -Mills.
Why were the highest honours conferred on peacocks? Because knights associated them with all their ideas of fame, and vowed by the peacock, as well as by the ladies, to perform their highest enterprises. - Mills.
Why do herons, in flying, seem encumbered with too much sail for their light bodies?
Because of their vast hollow wings, which are necessary in carrying burdens, such as large fishes, &e. G. White.
Why is the stone-curlew so called?
Because, when hatched, the young run immediately from the egg, like partridges, &c; and are withdrawn to some flinty field by the dam, where they skulk among the stones, which are their best security; for their feathers are so exactly the colour of our gray spotted flints, that the most exact observer, unless he catches the eye of the young bird, may be eluded. G. White.
Why do poachers light fires on the coast, to catch woodcocks?
Because woodcocks, migrating during the night, and being attracted by the light, bend their course thither; in which manner great numbers are annually destroyed.
Why are the nests of woodcocks and fieldfares so rarely found in England?
Because those birds leave us in the spring, in order to cross the seas, and to retire to some districts more suitable to the purpose of breeding. That the former
pair before they retire,' observes Mr White, and that the hens are forward with egg, I myself, when I was a sportsman, have often experienced.' — Nat. Hist. of Selborne.
Why is a certain bird called 'the Ruff"?
Because the neck and ear feathers are much produced in the breeding season, in the males, the heads of which are in part naked. — Fleming.
Why were petrels, in past times, thought to predict a storm?
Because they seem to repose in a common breeze, but, upon the approach, or during the continuation, of a gale, they surround a ship, and catch up the small animals which the agitated ocean brings near the surface, or any food that may be dropped from the vessel. Whisking like an arrow through the deep valleys of the abyss, and darting away over the foaming crest of some mountain wave, they attend the labouring bark in all her perilous course. When the storm subsides, they retire to rest, and are no more seen. Our sailors have, from very early times, called these birds 'Mother Cary's Chickens.' Knapp.
The inhabitants of the Faroe islands use them as lamps: they pass a wick through their bodies, which, when lighted, burns a long time, from the quantity of fat they contain.- Blumenbach.
Why has the swan the epithet of mute?
Because it utters no sound except its hissing. Why has a Swan with Two Necks' been adopted as a tavern-sign?
Because, it appears, from the roll of swan's marks in the time of Henry VIII, that the king's swans were
double marked, and had what were called two nicks, or notches. The term, in process of time, not being understood, a double animal was invented, with the name of the 'Swan with Two Necks.' The Mirror,
Why are certain civic excursions on the Thames called 'swan-hopping'?
Because of its corruption from swan-upping, or the taking-up of swans, performed annually by the swan companies, with the Lord Mayor at their head, for the purpose of marking the birds. - The Mirror, 1828. Why is a black swan no longer a proverbial rarity? Because it is now found in great numbers in Van Diemen's Land, in New South Wales, and on the western coast of New Holland. The latter settlement, Swan River, has been so named from the flocks of black swans on its banks..
Why is the finest down of the eider-duck called 'live' down?
Because it is found in the nest: that which is plucked from the dead bird is little esteemed.
Eider-down is imported chiefly from Iceland, and other northern countries. It is collected from the nests of birds; if the nest be deprived of its down, the female takes a fresh quantity from her breast; but, if the nest be a second time deprived of its down, she cannot supply it: the male then takes from his breast the necessary lining.-Selby.
Why have the bills of ducks a soft covering?
Because it supplies them with a real sense of taste; this covering being supplied with exceedingly large cutaneous nerves. Accordingly, it is easy to remark the manner in which ducks probe, as it were, the puddles, in search of their food, where they cannot be guided by their sight or smell.— Blumenbach.