Sources : Hawk

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 9-10): [Book 10, 9] Of hawks we find sixteen kinds, and among these the aegithus, which when lame in one foot is of very fortunate omen for marriage contracts and for property in cattle, and the triorchis, named from the number of its testicles, the bird to which Phemonoe gave primacy among auguries. The Roman name for it is buteo which is also the surname of a family, assumed because one perched on an admiral's ship with good omen. The Greeks give the name of merlin to the only species that appears at every the season, whereas all the others go away in winter. The varieties of hawks are distinguished by their appetite for food: some only snatch a bird off the ground, others only one fluttering round a tree, others one that perches high in the branches, others one flying in the open. Consequently even the doves know the risks that they run from hawks, and when they see one they alight, or else fly upward, safeguarding themselves by going counter to the hawk's nature. [Book 10, 10] In the district of Thrace inland from Amphipodus men and hawks have a sort of partnership for fowling: the men put up the birds from woods and reed-beds and the hawks flying overhead drive them down again; the fowlers share the bag with the hawks. It is reported that when the birds have been put up the hawks intercept them in the air, and when it is time for a catch invite the sportsmen to take the opportunity by their screaming and their way of flying. ... Hawks do not eat the hearts of birds. - [Rackham translation]

Aelianus [170-230 CE] (On the Characteristics of Animals, Book 2, 43): When hawks are troubled with their eyesight they go straight to some stone wall and pull up some wild lettuce and then holding it above their eyes allow the bitter, astringent juice to drip in; and this restores their health. ... At the beginning of spring the hawks of Egypt select two from all their number and dispatch them to reconnoiter certain desert islands off the coast of Libya. When they return they act as leaders to the rest in their flight. And their arrival is the occasion of rejoicing on the part of the Libyans at their sojourn, for they do no damage whatever. And having reached the islands which the original scouts decided were the most suitable for them, they there lay and hatch their eggs in complete security and peace; and they hunt sparrows and pigeons and rear their young in an abundance of food. Then when these have grown strong and are able to fly, they take the young birds with them back to Egypt as though they were going to their own homes, that is to their haunts in regions they have grown to know. - [Scholfield translation]

Saint Ambrose [4th century CE] (Hexameron, Book 5, 18.59): Hawks are said to show harshness toward their own offspring. They eject them from their nests when they notice their first attempts at flight. If they still linger, they are immediately pushed headlong by their parents, who beat them with their wings and compel them to perform the fearful action. At no time after that do they perform their office of giving sustenance to their young. Yet why should we wonder that birds accustomed to plunder find it distasteful to nourish their progeny? - [Savage translation, 1961]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:55-56): [Book 12, 7.55] The hawk [accipiter] is a bird armed more with spirit than with talons, bearing great valor in its small body. It assumes its name from ‘taking’ [accipere], that is, seizing, for it is a bird very eager to snatch up other birds, so that it is called accipiter, that is, ‘raptor’ (raptor). Whence the apostle Paul says [II Corinthians 11:20]: “For you withstand it, if anyone takes from you” – where he meant “if anyone seizes [rapit]”, he said “if anyone takes (accipit).” [Book 12, 7.56] It is said that hawks are undutiful toward their nestlings, for as soon as they see that the nestlings can try to fly, they no longer furnish them with any food, but beat their wings and cast them from the nest; and from infancy they compel them to hunt prey, lest perhaps as adults they should grow sluggish. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Gerald of Wales [c. 1146 – c. 1223] (Topographia Hibernica, chapter 8): According to Cassiodorus, birds of this class, which live by prey, allow their young no rest in their infancy, that they may not acquire indolent habits; they beat the tender brood with their wings, and compel them to fly as soon as they are fledged, that they may rear them to habits on which the parents may rely. And when, in process of time, they are strong on the wing, with the help of their natural instinct they are taught to seek their prey, and then are driven by their cruel parents from their native seats, to which they are not allowed to return. ... We find it remarkable in sparrow-hawks, that some are distinguished by white spots, some by red, and some by particolored. Hence, it has been conjectured that they contracted this variety from the trees in which they were bred. But as this difference is perceived in broods from the same trees, and even from the same nests, it seems to be the better opinion that this variety in their plumage is derived from the parent birds. It is also reported of the sparrowhawk, that when the frost of winter is very severe, it seizes a bat towards evening, and nestling to it the whole of the night for the sake of the warmth, lets it go free in the morning uninjured, in return for its service. Hawks and sparrow-hawks, differing in size rather than instinct, pounce on their prey with great velocity, and either fail in their first attack, or carry it off. - [Forester translation, 1863]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum, Birds 5.10, 5.19, 5.50; 5.91): [Thomas describes this bird under the names accipiter (hawk) , buteus and nisus.] [Birds 5.10] The hawk, as he says [i.e. Liber rerum], is a very noble bird, certainly greater, but much slower than a heron, yet more careful in his guard. For in flight it is more controlled and wonderfully composed. When it has caught a bird, it immediately pierces it in the side of the beak, so that it can only satisfy his heart; wherefore the master of that bird rewards the victor with the heart alone, reserving the rest for his own use. A hawk, stripped of its old feathers, spreads its wings to the south, in order to recover new ones, and this in order that the pores may be opened to the heat of the Sun, and that the feathers may more easily grow again. When a hawk is healthy, its wings are outstretched, but when it is sick, its wings are lowered. He carries a hawk in his left hand, as the Experimentator says, when he wants to catch something on the right. As Ambrose says, this bird, when it sees that it can test its young by flight, does not bring them food, but beats them with its wing and makes them fall from the nest; and so it compels the young to hunt, lest the grown-ups become lazy. As Pliny says, a hawk boiled in rose oil is a very effective cure for diseases of the limbs. A wild hawk snatches domestic birds and devours them at once, but a domesticated hawk snatches wild ones and keeps them for its master. But it catches hares in this way: with its left foot planted on the ground, it seizes a running animal with its right, and this for the purpose of preventing the hare from escaping from its strength, which is of course stronger. And it is to be noted that the hawk first attacks the head of the hare, and at the beginning it takes down the sight with its claws. A hawk's feather which has been violently plucked out, does not easily grow back, owing to the dryness and rarity of the pores. As a result, it is often constipated and unable to digest food. But the feathers which naturally fall, the hawks grow more easily, because the place is ripe and more abundant in moisture. [Birds 5.19] Buteus, as he says [i.e. Liber rerum], is a bird of the kind of hawk, but it is a little blacker. It is too slow and too lazy to fly. This bird is very sweet in flavor and taste when taken as food. [Birds 5.50] There are also four kinds of hawks. The first kind is large in body, very tame, with transparent eyes, thick feet, long claws, cheerful countenance, eating deliciously, enjoying warm birds. It attacks all birds and does not fear even the eagle. The second kind of hawk is what we can call a alietum; less than the first kind, having thick wings in proportion to the size of the body, short feet and thick claws, large and dark eyes. It does not quickly become tame, and therefore hateful to many. In the first year of taming it is worth little, in the second more, and in the third year it catches quite well. The third type of hawk is the nisus [sparrowhawk], small indeed compared to the others, but still swift. It tames quickly and likes to be gently fed, and he nibbles a little. The fourth type is called frogellus, which we commonly call musketum. This one is much smaller in size, but similar in color, just as the size of the hawk is similar in arrangement of habit and color. It is a bird that tames quickly, is quick to fly, is a light bird, and loves to be fed deliciously. It is best in the second or third year. [Birds 5.91] Nysus is a noble bird, as the Liber rerum says, smaller both in form and strength than the falcon [herodius]. Both have the same color of feathers, and yet they refuse to fly together. For envy is carried away by pride, but when it strives, and surrounds itself, it is only by victory that honor can be obtained. This can be appreciated, and perhaps deservedly so. But in truth this is more credible, that the prey only sneers, lest, having had a companion in flight, he should receive a companion in the pasture. However, it is not doubtful that its despises the peer of its own kind and pursue it as a bird of another kind, and this against the nature of all birds, because, as Aristotle says, every bird that catches prey in flight spares the birds of its own kind. Therefore the only effort of this generosity is wasted, and this with man himself because, among four-footed animals, he does not cease to lie in wait for an animal of his own kind. It endeavors to keep a bird caught in winter under its feet all night alive because of the cold, and remembering, as the common people taught, it allows the prisoner to fly away in the morning in return the cost of a favor: a memorable example, and plainly pious. The effort of nesting in bushes and in a low place is considered excellent; but he who makes a nest above himself in high and great places is judged less daring and meaner. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book12.2): The Gosehauke is a royall foule, & is armed with more boldnesse then with clawes, and as much as kinde taketh from her in quantitie of body, he rewardeth her with boldnesse of heart, as Isidore saith. And as he sayth, shée is a covetous foule to take other foules, and for the taking of other fowles, and for pray she is called Accipiter & Rapter, ravisher. Also Basilius in Exameron sayth: that such Haukes be cruell against their birds: so that they take from them meat when they be flegge and ripe, and they beate and drive them out of their neast, as the Eagle doth hir birds. And for shée doubteth least they be not hardy, she comforteth and exciteth them to bée bolde, and hardye, and to take pray, least when they bee full of age, they shoulde be dull and idle, and accustome themselves more to the séeking of meate, then to be bolde, and of hardye courage, as Beda sayth and Ambrose also. And some such Hawkes bee théeves of the aire onelye, and some of the earth onely, as Eagles bee diverse, as Aristotle sayth in his sixt booke. The first manner of Hawkes take onelye flyeng Birdes, and the seconde manner of Hawkes smite and réese on birdes that sit on the earth, and Doves know which is which, and they knowe the diversitye of Eagles, as it is sayde. And Accipiter is an hot fowle and dry, and poore of charge of flesh, and addressed with diversitie of pennes and of feathers, and is in fairenesse of fethers most like the Oistridge, and not pere thereto in boldnesse of heart: And shée flyeth nowe up to the aire swiftly, and so high that no man can see her: and then falleth sodeinly downe upon her pray: and her breast is most sharpe, and covered with little flesh. Thereof Aristotle speaketh, and he sayth lib. 14. that the more sharpe her breast is, the better shée is of flight. For if she had a full broad breast, she should move much aire, and shoulde be slowe of flight. And her breast is not fleshie, but it is sharpe: and should be feeble, if it were covered with much flesh: as it is said there. Her most strength is in ye breast, & in the clawes, & in hir bil, with ye which soone she taketh out the braine of her praie. Her gall is medicinable and profitable medled in Colbrijs medicines of eien: and it sharpeth the sight of eien, & destroieth and wasteth white speekles, which be in the eien: and so doth her dirt also: & the Gosehauke hath this propertie as Gregory saith, that in age when shée feeleth her selfe grieved with he heavines & waight of feathers, she spreadeth her winges against the beames of the Sun, when the winde is South, and so by sodeine weather and resolving heate, the pores be opened: and when the pores be so opened, she smiteth and flappeth her winges, and in so dooing the olde feathers leape out and newe growe: and so the new fethers maketh her in better state, and the more able to flight: and two kindes there be of such Fowles, for some be tame, and some be wild: and he that is tame taketh wilde fowles, and taketh them to his owne Lorde: and he that is wild taketh tame foules. And this Accipiter is of a disdaynous kinde. For if shee fayle by anye happe of the praye that she ryseth too, that daye unneth she comes to her Lords hande: and he must have ordinate diet, neyther to scarse nor too full. For by too much meate she waxeth fat, and then she waxeth ramayous or slowe, and disdayneth to come to reclaime: and if the meat be too scarce, then she fayleth, and is feeble and unmightye to take her praye. Also the eyen of such Birdes shoulde ofte be siled and closed, or hidde, that shee bate not too oft from his hand that beareth her, when she seeth a birde that she desireth to take: and also her legges must be fastened with gesses, that she shall not flye freely to every birde. And they be borne on the lefte hand, that they maye some what take of the righte hand, and be fed therewith. And so Accipitres, such fame hawkes be kepte in mewes, that they may be discharged of olde fethers and hard, and be so renewed in fairnesse of youth. Also men give them meate of some manner of flesh, which is some deale venemous, that they may the sooner change their feathers, and smoake grieveth such hawkes and doeth them harme, as Beda saith: and therfore their mewes must be far from smoakie places, that their bodies be not grieved with bitternesse of smoake: nor their fethers infect with blacknesse of smoake. They should be fed with fresh flesh & bloudye, & men should use to give them to eate, ye harts of foules that they take. All the while they be alive, and be strong and mightie to take their pray, they beloved of theyr Lords, and borne on handes, and set on pearches, and stroken on the breast, and on the tayle, and made plaine & smoothe, & be norished with great businesse & diligence: but when they be dead, all men holde them unprofitable & nothing worth, and be not eaten, but rather throwen out on dounghills. - [Batman]