This bird has a great love for its young; and when it finds them in its nest dead from a serpent’s bite, it pierces itself to the heart, and with its blood it bathes them till they return to life.
This has no digestive organs, and gets no food but from the fire, in which it constantly renews its scaly skin.
The salamander, which renews its scaly skin in the fire,—for virtue.
This lives on air, and there it is the prey of all the birds; so in order to be safer it flies above the clouds and finds an air so rarefied that it cannot support the bird that follows it.
At that height nothing can go unless it has a gift from Heaven, and that is where the chameleon flies.
Taken from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880.