that the bills of those birds were odd-looking, but he felt they were too large
to put on a cowbird, even an enlarged specimen. "They'd keep toppling
forward from the weight of those beaks. What about giving him a tooth?"
tooth?" John asked.
"Or a pair of
lips," Victor went on.
fair," I said. "The properties have to be those of a bird."
"Well, then I
think we ought to stick to the cowbird beak," Victor said.
his tail?" I asked. "A woodpecker's? That stiff tail with which he
props himself up against a tree trunk." John and Victor thought for a
while. The embers shifted in the fire. Beyond the circle of light the darkness
of the mountain night was profound; we seemed contained in a compartment by the
surrounding pines, our faces bright: We were plotters.
tail," Victor said conspiratorially, as if he were divulging an appalling
indiscretion to us. "Let's leave it off completely. The big feature of his
body should be his legs, to de-emphasize the birdlike characteristics of
flight. The legs should be powerful, with big, feminine thighs, like a tiny
ostrich's or an emu's. The cowbird's body can sit on top of that."
have very prominent feet," I suggested. "Grebe-like. The grebe has
slightly uncomfortable. Victor explained: "John's sister, Rose Ann, is
called 'the Grebe.' That's her bird name—the Western grebe for her long neck
sorry," I said. "I didn't know."