The Trochilus





This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a peculiar turn

of mind:--"When the Crocodile gapes, the trochilus flies into its mouth

to cleanse its teeth; in this process the trochilus procures food, and

the other perceives it, and does not injure it; when the Crocodile

wishes the trochilus to leave, it moves its neck that it may not bite

the bird."



Giovanni Leone--before quoted--says, respecting this bird:--"As we

sayled further we saw great numbers of crocodiles upon the banks of the

ilands in the midst of Nilus lye baking them in the sunne with their

jawes wide open, whereinto certaine little birds about the bignesse of a

thrush entering, came flying forth againe presently after. The occasion

whereof was told me to be this: the crocodiles by reason of their

continuall devouring beasts and fishes have certaine pieces of flesh

sticking fast betweene their forked teeth, which flesh being putrified,

breedeth a kind of worme, wherewith they are cruelly tormented; wherefor

the said birds flying about, and seeing the wormes enter into the

Crocodile's jaws to satisfie their hunger thereon, but the Crocodile

perceiving himselfe freede from the wormes of his teeth, offereth to

shut his mouth, and to devour the little bird that did him so good a

turne, but being hindred from his ungratefull attempt by a pricke which

groweth upon the bird's head, hee is constrayned to open his jawes, and

to let her depart."



Du Bartas gives another colour to the behaviour of the Trochilus:--



"The Wren, who seeing (prest with sleep's desire)

Nile's poys'ny Pirate press the slimy shoar,

Suddenly coms, and, hopping him before,

Into his mouth he skips, his teeth he pickles,

Clenseth his palate, and his throat so tickles,

That, charm'd with pleasure, the dull Serpent gapes.

Wider and wider, with his ugly chaps:

Then, like a shaft, th' Ichneumon instantly

Into the Tyrants greedy gorge doth fly,

And feeds upon that Glutton, for whose Riot,

All Nile's fat margents scarce could furnish diet."





The Toad The Unicorn facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback