Friday, May 30, 2008

Mr Douglas’s eagle

A fine young Calumet Eagle, two years old, sex unknown, I have acquired, brought from the Cootanie lands in the bosom of the Rocky Mntns, near the headwaters of the Saskatchewan River. His plumage is much destroyed.

Many strange stories are told of this bird [aka Golden Eagle] as to strength & ferocity, such as carrying off young deer entire. By most of the tribes the tail feathers are highly prized for adorning their war caps and other garments.

Are caught as follows: A deep pit is dug in the ground, covered over with small sticks, straw, grass and a thin covering of earth, in which the hunter take his seat; a large piece of flesh is placed above, having a string tied to it, the other end held in the hand of the person below.

The bird, on eyeing the prey, instantly descends and while his talons are fastened in the flesh the hunter pulls bird and flesh into the pit. Scarcely an instance is known of failing in the hunt [and this has unfortunate resonance with how Douglas himself would die in Hawaii in 1834]

This one having been taken only a few days after hatching is now docile [But] the boys who have been in the habit of teasing him for some past having ruffled his temper, I took and caged him with some difficulty [Not so docile, huh?]

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