Of a bird, or almost monster among the birds, that exists on this island of Hispaniola and in other islands of these parts.
Translated by Kendal Simmons ‘23
In this chapter about the birds of this island of Hispaniola and of these surrounding islands, I wanted to save for last something new to me, something that I have never heard of or read about in any other part of the world. In my opinion, it is a very significant thing and worthy of admiration, and in these parts, it is frequently seen and well-known. This is a bird of the size of a gull, of an almost white plumage, mixed with brownish feathers, and with a beak like that of a gull, only sharper. It can be said that it is a bird of prey on land and water, and that way it can sustain itself by hunting on land, as well as fishing in the seas and rivers. It has the left foot of a mallard or duck or other types of fowl that travel by sea. With this foot, the bird sits in the water as it pleases, just as a goose or a mallard would. The right foot is of prey, like any good hawk or falcon tends to have, or like one of those birds that is well armed with talons. And when the fish surface out of the water, this bird dives from up high where it flies and grabs the fish with the talons on its right foot. If it wants to remain seated above the water with the other duck-like foot that it has, it stays calmly at rest and eats its fish; if the bird prefers to eat the fish elsewhere, it flies away, carrying the fish in its talons and eating it either in the air, on a boulder, or in a tree, wherever it sees fit and wants to sit. I have never seen, heard, or read about anything so dissimilar, so remote and so distinct from all the other birds in the world because like I said, this bird is of both land and water. According to some, the birds also gorge themselves on smaller birds, lizards, and other similar land delicacies. On this island, on the island of Saint Johan, and on the others of these parts these birds have been seen and are seen frequently—the Christians call them seahawks.