Beast

Sources : Quail

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 33): For however much the size and strength of body of the kinds above mentioned may appear to invite them to travel, the quails always actually arrive before the cranes, though the quail is a small bird and when it has come to us remains on the ground more than it soars aloft; but they too get here by flying in the same way as the cranes, not without danger to seafarers when they have come near to land: for they often perch on the sails, and they always do this at night, and sink the vessels. Their route follows definite resting places. They do not fly in a south wind, doubtless because it is damp and rather heavy, yet they desire to be carried by the breeze, because of the weight of their bodies and their small strength (this is the reason for that mournful cry they give while flying, which is wrung from them by fatigue); consequently they fly mostly in a north wind, a landrail [ortygometra] leading the way. The first quail approaching land is seized by a hawk; from the place where this happens they always return and try to get an escort, and the tongue-bird [glottis], eared owl [otus] and ortolan [cychramus, a species of bunting] are persuaded to make the journey with them. The tongue-bird takes its name from the very long tongue that it puts out of its beak. At the start the charm of traveling lures this bird to sail on eagerly, but in the course of the flight repentance comes to it, no doubt with the fatigue; but it does not like to return unaccompanied, and it goes on following, though never for more than one day - at the next resting place it deserts. But day after day the company find another one, left behind in a similar manner the year before. The ortolan is more persevering, and hurries on actually to complete the journey to the lands which they are seeking; consequently it rouses up the birds in the night and reminds them of their journey. ... If a wind blowing against them begins to hold up a flight of these birds, they pick up little stones as ballast or fill their throat with sand to steady their flight. Quails are very fond of eating poison seed, on account of which our tables have condemned them; and moreover it is customary to spit at the sight of them as a charm against epilepsy, to which they are the only living creatures that are liable besides man. - [Rackham translation]

Gaius Julius Solinus [3rd century CE] (De mirabilibus mundi / Polyhistor, Chapter 11.20-23): [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. [Chapter 11.21] When they can clearly see the land, they gather in large flocks and move more vigorously. 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. [Chapter 11.22] 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. [Chapter 11.23] Their favorite 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): [Book 12, 6.64] The quail [coturnix] is named from the sound of its call; the Greeks call them ortigia because they were first seen on the island of Ortygia [Delos]. These birds have a season for their return migration, for, when they driven off by the summer heat, they cross the sea. [Book 12, 6.65] The bird that leads the flock is called an ortygometra. The hawk seizes this bird when it sees it approaching land; for this reason all quails are careful to secure a leader of a different species – through this carefulness they safeguard those first crucial moments. They have poisonous seeds as their favorite food; for this reason the ancients forbade their consumption. This animal alone suffers from 'falling sickness', as do humans. [Book 14, 6.14] The island [of Delos] is also called Ortygia, because there the birds called quails were seen for the first time; the Greeks call them ortigia. - [Barney, Lewis, et. al. translation]

Thomas of Cantimpré [circa 1200-1272 CE] (Liber de natura rerum,Birds 5.38): The quail, as he says [i.e. Liber rerum], is a bird which we commonly call quisculam. By the Greeks it is called ortigia, because these birds were first seen on the island of Ortigia. It is also called ortigometra as in 'leading the flock'. Solinus: The time of their of arrival is late in the summer. When they have to cross the seas, the gusts of the winds differ, and for fear of a long journey they preserve their strength with slowness. They never go out to the South for fear of the winds, but they fly themselves mostly to the North, so that their bodies are a little fatter and therefore slower, and in the drier and stronger wind can progress more easily. Accordingly they come together in groups for the passage, and then make haste more strongly in a group, and this haste usually brings destruction to the sailors; it happens in the night that they land on the sails and the sails fall, and the ships are overburdened with the weight, and therefore they generally become the ruin of the weaker. Therefore, as they approach the land, that is, the port of the sea, hawks see them and snatch them away, and therefore it is the work of all to seek a leader of the foreign race, by whom the first crises are frustrated. The female quail is among the rarest birds. - [Badke translation/paraphrase]

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Book12.7): [Bartholomaeus calls the quail "curlewe", a name for them not seen elsewhere.] Curlewes are called Coturnices, and have that name of the sownd of the voyce. And be certaine birdes, that the Gréekes call Ortigias, for they wer first séene in the lande that is called Ortigia, as Isidore saith. These birdes have certaine times of comming, and make and lead flockes, and they dread the Gossehawke, and while they sée the Goshauk, they arise not from the earth: & therefore they be called Ortigometra. Also these birds have guides and leaders as cranes have: and for they dread the Goshauke, they are busie to comforte the leaders, by the which leaders they be ware and warned of their perill and harme, that they be not taken with the Gossehawke. Onely those birdes have ye falling evill, as as a man hath, and the sparowes also. And they passe the Sea, and when they be wearie, they fall downe upon the water, and rest uppon the one wing, and maketh his sayle of the other wing. His best meate, is venemous seede and graines, and for that cause in olde time men forbad eating of them. And an hearbe that is called Eleborus, is Curlewes meate, and if another beast eateth it in great quantitie, it is perillous and poyson: for beasts have broad and wide veynes, by the which ye smoke passeth, and by strength of that hearbe, the heart is sodainly cooled and dead: and Curlewes have straight veynes about the heart, and therfore venemous smoke hath no through passage, but he bideth in the stomacke, and is there defied & made subtill, and so it grieveth them not. And we call in common speach Coturnices crebros a veloci cursu, for swifte running, for he runneth upon the earth most swiftly, And such birdes love birdes of their owne kinde: and therefore everie of them cry to other, and come together, as Ambrose saith. - [Batman]