Snow Birds

But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and speak of

"Birds shut up under the Snow."

"There are in the Northern Countries Wood-Cocks, like to pheasant for

bigness, but their Tails are much shorter, and they are cole black all

over their bodies, with some white feathers at the end of their Tails

and Wings. The Males have a red Comb standing upright; the Females have

one t
at is low and large, and the colour is grey. These Birds are of an

admirable Nature to endure huge Cold in the Woods, as the Ducks in the

Waters. But when the Snow covers the Superficies of the Earth, like to

Hills, all over, and for a long time presse down the boughs of the Trees

with their weight, they eat certain Fruits of the Birch-Tree, called in

Italian (Gatulo) like to a long Pear, and they swallow them whole,

and that in so great quantity, and so greedily, that their throat is

stuffed, and seems greater than all their body.

"Then they part their Companies, and thrust themselves all over into the

snow, especially in January, February and March, when Snow and

Whirlwinds, Storms, and grievous Tempests, descend from the Clouds. And

when they are covered all over, that not one of them can be seen, lying

all in heaps, for certain weeks they live, with meat collected in their

throats, and cast forth, and resumed. The Hunter's Dogs cannot find

them; yet by the Cunning of the crafty Hunters, it falls out, that when

the Dogs err in their scent, they, by signs, will catch a number of

living Birds, and will draw them forth to their great profit. But they

must do that quickly; because when they hear the Dogs bark, they

presently rise like Bees, and take up on the Wing, and fly aloft. But,

if they perceive that the Snow will be greater, they devour the foresaid

Fruit again, and take a new dwelling, and there they stay till the end

of March: or, if the snow melt sooner, when the Sun goes out of Aries;

for then the snow melting, by an instinct of Nature (as many other

Birds) they rise out of their holes to lay Eggs, and produce young ones;

and this in Mountains where bryars are, and thick Trees. Males and

Females sit on the Eggs by turns, and both of them keep the Young, and

chiefly the Male, that neither the Eagle nor Fox may catch them.

"These Birds fly in great sholes together, and they remain in high

Trees, chiefly Birch-Trees; and they come not down, but for propagation,

because they have food enough on the top of their Trees. And when

Hunters or Countreymen, to whom those fields belong, see them fly all

abroad, over the fields full of snow, they pitch up staves obliquely

from the Earth, above the Snow, eight or ten foot high; and at the top

of them, there hangs a snare, that moves with the least touch, and so

they catch these Birds; because they, when they Couple, leap strangely,

as Partridges do, and so they fall into these snares, and hang there.

And when one seems to be caught in the Gin, the others fly to free her,

and are caught in the like snare. There is also another way to catch

them, namely with arrows and stalking-horses, that they may not suspect


"There is also another kind of Birds called Bonosa, whose flesh is

outwardly black, inwardly white: they are as delicate good meat as

Partridges, yet as great as Pheasants. At the time of Propagation, the

Male runs with open mouth till he foam; then the Female runs and

receives the same; and from thence she seems to conceive, and bring

forth eggs, and to produce her young."