My Bantam chickens, which have been kept in the scullery every night for fear of the rats, that carried away the first brood from the brew-house, went up last week to the beam over the stable. The earnest & early propensity of the Gallinae to roost on high is very observable; & discovers a strong dread impressed on their spirits respecting vermin that may annoy them on the ground during the hours of darkness. Hence poultry, if left to themselves & not housed, will perch, the winter through on yew-trees & fir-trees; & turkies & Guinea-fowls, heavy as the are, get up into apple trees; pheasants also in woods sleep on trees to avoid foxes: — while pea-fowls climb to the tops of the highest trees round their owner’s house for security, let the weather be ever so cold or blowing. Partridges, it is true, roost on the ground, not having the faculty of perching; but then the same fear prevails in their minds; for through apprehensions from pole-cats, weasels, & stoats, they never trust themselves to coverts; but nestle together in the midst of large fields, far removed from hedges & coppices, which the love to haunt in the day; & where at that season they can skulk more secure from the ravages of rapacious birds. As to ducks, & geese, their aukward splay web-feet forbid them to settle on trees: they therefore, in the hours of darkness & danger, betake themselves to their own element the water, where amidst large lakes & pools, like ships riding at anchor, they float the whole night long in peace & security.
Posted by sydney on Sep 23rd, 1792