Native American – Choctaw Story
retold by Sanjit
Owl and Pigeon were friends. Most mornings they sat in the same tree to talk and watch the sunrise.
Sometimes one of them would boast about how fast they could fly, or their relatives could fly, or how far, and how good their eyesight was when they were high above the ground.
One morning Owl boasted about something different. “I think there are more owls than pigeons,” he said.
“No,” said Pigeon. “That’s not right. There are lots more pigeons than owls.”
“There’s only one way to find out,” hooted Owl, fluffing out his feathers.
”I challenge you to a counting!”
“Agreed,” cooed Pigeon. “Where and when should we do this? We’ll need lots of perching space.”
Owl scratched his wing feathers with his beak as he thought for a moment.
Then he said “the Big Woods will do. It’s a nice place, with plenty of trees for everyone to land.”
“Okay,” said Pigeon. “The Big Woods it is. You fly round and tell the owls and I’ll tell the pigeons. I’ll need a week because there are so many of us.”
“Well, I’ll probably need two weeks,” hooted Owl.
“No way,” said Pigeon jumping up and down angrily. “One week from today, an hour after sunrise. All owls and pigeons should be here. Anyone who’s late won’t be counted.”
“Agreed,” hooted Owl. Then they both flew off to tell everyone.
A week later the owls arrived first, just as the sun was rising.
They swooped down on the Big Woods from every direction until there were owls in most of the trees.
They hooted and laughed to each other “Toowoo, wah, wah! The pigeons are still asleep!”
The hooting and wing flapping died down as they settled on the branches and waited. They were sure there were more of them than the pigeons.
After a while they heard a swooshing sound in the distance.
Huge grey clouds moved towards them from the east, south and north.
The clouds were pigeon wings.
Thousands of pigeons swooped down on the Big Woods, blocking out the sky.
s the pigeons landed in the trees, the owls had to shuffle closer together. Branches broke when too many pigeons tried to land at once.
The owls couldn’t believe their eyes or their ears. The noise of flapping wings and scratching feet was deafening.
The owls stared, moving their heads from side to side to watch the pigeons land all around them.
And still the pigeons kept coming, circling down from the sky looking for landing space. The owls could not believe there were so many pigeons.
Their eyes grew wider and wider as they moved their heads from side to side, trying to keep track of the pigeons. More and more of them swooshed in.
Some of the owls started to feel nervous. Being surrounded and squashed by so many pigeons was a bit scary. They began to hoot to each other “Tooooowoooo, we’re being trampled. Let’s get out of here!”
One by one the owls took off, darting up between branches and diving away from the still incoming pigeons.
The owls fled into the sky, their staring eyes flattened even wider open by the wind rushing past them.
No-one did any counting.
The pigeons settled themselves all over the Big Woods, cooing and calling to each other, celebrating their win.
Since then, owls have always traveled at night when pigeons are asleep.
They stare at everything around them, watching out for pigeons.