Internet Shakespeare Editions


A Winter diet

One way to supplement the diet in the lean season of winter was to trap wild birds, either in nets, or by smearing branches with birdlime*, a sticky substance that prevented them from flying away.

The trapping of some birds was essential for the protection of crops and livestock:

Kill crow, [mag]pie and caddow [jackdaw], rook, buzzard and raven,
Or else go desire them to seek a new haven.

Though then as now in the late winter some game was safe from the hunter because of the breeding season:

Leave killing of coney [rabbits], let doe go to buck,
And [kill] vermin [in] thy borough, for fear of ill-luck.


  1. Birdlime

    In Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice, "like a lapwing runs close by the ground" to hear her friends discuss the supposed love Benedick has for her. By the end of the scene Ursula remarks of the "lapwing" that "She's limed, I warrant you! We have caught her" (3.1.24-25, 104).