The Wren and the Water Ousel

Stilpakad and Hoh-Te-Kogds

Along the rivers and little creeks lives a small bird that jumps up and down all the time. He lives on bugs and little worms in the water. He can dive and swim and seldom goes away from along the water. When he sees other birds on the land and in the trees along the streams he talks very much. One time he made a long talk to Stilpakad, the wren, saying: “You land birds don’t know very much, you are afraid of the water. I am both wise and strong; suppose you wrestle with me.” Wren said: “You don’t know as much as you think. There are many things you don’t know much about. Maybe if you come on land and wrestle with me I shall win. But I am in a hurry.” Many days the Water Ousel talked to the Wren and wanted to wrestle. At last Wren said: “Now soon I will wrestle you.” He was much smaller than Ousel, so he figured out a plan while sitting by the campfire. First he threw away the brands then leveled out the ashes so it looked cold, but there were hot coals underneath. Then he said: “If you want to now, you big-talking bird, come up here on this level ground, and I will wrestle you.” The Ousel came up jumping up and down all the time. Wren got him between himself and the ashes. All at once he jumped straight at Ousel who fell backward into the ashes, and was overcome by the fire. Wren jumped up and down on him until he was still. Then he fluttered his wings and blew the ashes over him so he could not be seen. Wren said: “One bird thought he knew everything, but he didn’t.” Next day he saw Water Ousel in the creek but he was a very quiet bird.


Bruseth, Nels. Indian Stories and Legends of the Stillaguamish and Allied Tribes. 1926.

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