Part IV, Chapter XXIV = XCIX: On Strange Birds and their Peculiarities.
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2067 Introduction illustrated by Verses from the Qur’án. The fabulous ‘Anqá, and the myth connected with its origin. [Hishám b. Muḥammad] al-Kalbí’s account of the extinction of the species of this animal at the curse of Hanḍḥala b. Ṣafwán, the prophet of the people of Rass. (Q. A. M. pp. 419—20). az-Zamakhsharí accounts for the extinction of the huge bird in his Rabí‘u’l-Abrár in the following manner: God revealed to Moses the creation of this bird; but after Moses the bird migrated to Najd and the Ḥijz, and its tyranny raged upon the people, therefore the prophet Khálid b. Sinán al-‘Absí, prayed to God for its extinction. (Cf. Rawdhu’l-Akhyár, the abridged version of Rabí‘u’l-Abrár, ed. Buláq, 1280 A. H., p. 99. This is related on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbás, the famous commentator. Also, D. H. H. pp. 192—5; particularly p. 194, in part II. See above, p. 69, Notice 23).
f93b f356a 2068 The ostrich: resembling a camel in the structure of the body and having large wings, its eggs a delicacy, its method of laying and brooding, its characteristic forgetfulness and proverbial foolishness, swallowing of pieces of stone and hot iron. (Q. A. M. p. 425; D. H. H. pt. II, pp. 412, 420). The author recounts his experience, in Khúján a district of Níshápúr, at the school of Dhiyá’u’d-Dín Ṣá‘id, of an ostrich that was with the Wakíl of [‘Alá’u’d-Dín Muḥammad] Khwárazmsháh [who ruled 1199—1220 A. D.] in the year 603 A. H. = 1206/7.
f356b 2069 A story connected with the peculiar habit of an ostrich of picking up pearls and precious stones. A Ṣábian accused by a jeweller of Baghdád of stealing a ruby which an ostrich had swallowed; on cutting open the animal, the ruby had lost in weight but gained in lustre*. The curious property of the shell of the ostrich’s egg, which makes water boil on ice.
f94a 2070 The eagle: its various kinds, the forest eagle, the dark-coloured mountain eagle and the white one, a vulture. The “Ḥajaru’l-‘Uqáb” or the stone of the eagle, found in India and its peculiar properties. (Q. A. M. p. 220).
f94b f357a 2071 Other peculiarities of the eagle: its high flight in the skies, its brood and method of feeding them, its prey and its proverbial vigilance. (Cf. Q. A. M. pp. 418—9; D. H. H. pt. II, pp. 152—3).
2072 The vulture: its long life, its suspicious nature; and some of its medicinal properties.
f95a 2073 The Humáy: the fabulous bird, whose shadow is supposed to bring good luck.
      An anecdote concerning the cause of the high estimation of Ayáz in the eyes of the Sultan Maḥmúd of Ghazna: when the other Turkish guards were running after the shadow of this bird, Ayáz was seeking the shadow of the King.
f357b 2074 The Burṣul (?): A bird smaller than a pigeon and very fond of its own species, it lives on olives. A story of the old Greek Musician (see above, p. 98, n. 12) who made a musical instrument that whistled like the cry of a young Burṣul for food, in order to gather olives from the birds; his ascetic life, and the church which he erected and which these birds supplied with olives.
      The chapter ends with a hyperbolical comparison of the pen of the Wazír to a fabulous bird possessing extraordinary powers.