Beast

Sources : Quail

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 33): Though quails prefer to remain on the ground, though they arrive on migration by flying. They are sometimes a danger to sailors; arriving near land at night, they land on the sails of ships and cause them to sink. As protection against hawks quails try to obtain an escort of other birds, including the tongue-bird (glottis), eared owl (otus) and ortolan (cychramus). When they fly they prefer a north wind to carry them, since they are weak and become tired; this fatigue is why they give a mournful cry while flying. If they encounter a wind blowing against them, quails pick up small stones or fill their throats with sand to serve as ballast. Quails like to eat poison seeds; for this reason quails are not eaten. This bird is the only creature other than man to have epilepsy, so as a charm against the illness it is customary to spit at the sight of the bird.

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 11.20): On this island [Crete], quails were first seen. The Greeks call them “ortygae”. These birds are thought to be appointed to the guardianship of Latona. They are not seen in all seasons: they arrive when summer is drawing to a close. When they cross the sea, they put off making an effort through fear of a longer journey; they nourish their strength through slowness of movement. [21] When they can clearly see the land, they gather in large flocks and move more vigourously. Their haste often brings destruction upon sailors. At night, the birds rend ships’ sails, and weigh down the folds of sailcloth, so the ships become unbalanced. Quails never fly on the south wind, for they fear the strength of this swollen breeze. They commonly commit themselves to the northern breezes, as they are stronger and drier. Thus they are better able to carry the quails’ bodies, which are somewhat fat, and, because of this, slow. [22] The bird who leads the flock is called “ortygometra”. When he approaches the land, he is seized by a watching hawk; as a result, the work becomes universal. Having stirred up a leader of another kind, the quails escape the first danger. [23] Their favourite food is the seeds of poisonous plants. For this reason, the tables of wise men spurn them. This is the only animal except man to suffer from the falling sickness. - [Arwen Apps translation, 2011]

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:64-65): The quail (coturnices) is named from the sound of its voice. The Greeks, having first seen them on the island of Ortygia, call them ortugai. They cross the sea at a fixed time. The leader of the flock is called ortygometra). The hawk sees the leader coming toward land and seizes it, so they try to get an escort of a different kind of bird to avoid being first to land. They like to eat poison seed, so the ancients said they could not be eaten. This bird is the only animal besides humans to suffer from "falling sickness".