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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Thursday, January 24, 2013

a tamed buzzard

A child growing up motherless in the 19th c. looks for companionship from all manner of creatures, including a bird of prey:

My first strange pet—I mean foreign to the household—was a buzzard, a large and noble bird which I used to carry about on my arm or shoulder when I was about seven years old. I called him Nestor, he looked so grave and wise ; and though I loved him very much, or thought I did, and took him often into the fields to spend my time with him alone, I always regarded him with a certain kind of awe, especially when he stretched out his great brown wings, and closed them over his head, as he always did in the act of eating, holding the food in his claws, and devouring it beneath this natural veil, as if the act of eating was too sacred and important to be exposed to vulgar eyes. I do not think my venerated friend was very amiable, or cared much about the laceration of the small arm on which he was carried, and which often bore the marks of his powerful talons. 
Nor am I sure that I was myself quite clear of blame in exciting his savage propensities ; for I remember a terribly wounded leg of his, the consequence of my chasing an old woman in the harvest field with the great bird held out in my arms, his beak and claws very formidably presented to the old woman, who turned sharply round and struck him with her sickle, to my indignation and dismay; though feeling that I could say little in the way of complaint. Of course the wounded warrior was carefully attended to, and soon recovered from the blow.

From "Our Pets," by "S.S." Published in Once a Week: An Illustrated Miscellany of Literature, Art, Science ..., S. Lucas, ed. Volume 2 (December - June, 1860; London: Bradbury & Evans), p. 16.

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