|THE SNIPE |
A common bird, occasionally seen, but never yet caught. Legions of sharp-eyed young foresters, engineers, cruisers, cookees, rodmen and hard-rock apprentices have made repeated, careful, and valiant attempts to corral one, but notwithstanding the bushels of careful advice and instruction handed out by the older hands in the party, success has not yet been attained. Seldom does the seasoned woodsman make the attempt; he is probably too discouraged to try again. But he is often willing to travel along with the hunting party just to see what happens, or perhaps to offer an occasional word of advice.
Many years ago I was taken on a snipe hunt and was able to get a good look at one bird which strayed near the bag I was so carefully holding. I couldn't get my hands on the little fellow, but I did have time to study him a bit, and I find that my observations tally very closely with a detailed report received from Mr. Howard S. Gardner. Here's the summary.
A bird of marvellous coloration: green, blues, pinks, and here and there the glint of gold. Wears both fur and feathers, with the fur side inside, like Mudjekeewis.6 Stands erect, about 17 cm high on two legs, but has a third auxiliary slightly aft, for use either as a stabilizer or as a starting mechanism. Lacking this additional leg, permanent unstable equilibrium would result. The eyes are fired with a constant, sulphurous glow, occasionally emitting small showers of sparks. One pupil is vertical, one horizontal, and winking is done alternately, keeping the Snipe constantly alert. His sharply hooked little beak is mounted on a bull-wheel base like a steam shovel, making possible the capture of insects without turning the head.
All in all, a most interesting and elusive animal. The fur-and-feathers
6: Figure of Ojibwe legends.
[ 65 ]