an English translation of the novel

Page 173-174

{The haythatcher sets up its convincing fake nest and eggs, and waits for birds to fall into its trap. It periodically patrols its nests, looking for new tributes.}

I thought back to the model of the haythatcher skeleton I one saw in our science class. In order to crush eggs, its precaudal vertebrae are thicker than to other snakes’, almost like a row of molars. It reuses the crushed eggshells as material for its own eggs. Because of the large amounts of calcium in its body, the eggs it lays are hard, like bird eggs, so baby haythatchers need beaks in order to break out.

But I never knew it used the Devil’s Hand as a defense against rat snakes and rosary snakes until today. Maybe I was asleep when the teacher taught us that.

This may be made up in hindsight, but I seem to remember feeling slightly uncomfortable at that time. It was a real-life example of the adaptation and natural selection mentioned in the textbook. In order to survive, even something like the Devil’s Hand could be evolved.

But as we set off up the Tone River again, all my questions and misgivings were blown away by the relaxing breeze.

 

As the day drew to an end, we steered our canoes toward the bank and went ashore. There were still faint traces of the group before us left on the sand.

The first task was to set up the tents. We dug holes for the bamboo tentpoles, and tied the canvas to them with leather strips. It was surprisingly tiring work. The easiest way was to have one person float the poles and canvas, and another person position them properly.

Next was food preparation. We had over three hundred kilos of supplies in our canoes, so food was plentiful. We gathered dried twigs and kindling nearby and lit a fire with our cantus. In a pot, we put purified water, rice, vegetables, meat, tofu skin and other foods to make rice gruel. Even though the only seasonings we had were miso and salt, everyone had worked up an appetite and we devoured the whole pot in the blink of an eye.


2 Responses to Page 173-174

  1. Hello! I just recently borrowed the first volume of the Chinese-translated novel from the local library, and from what I understand of this part, they’re mostly discussing the haythatcher’s predatory strategy.

    On page 169-170,
    >“To lay an egg of this size, the bird must be pretty big, right?”
    >“Nope. It’s the same size as a haythatcher,” Shun said.
    Here, what Satoru meant was that to lay fake eggs the size of a bittern’s, the haythatcher (since they were laid by a haythatcher) must be pretty big. Shun’s reply is that it is about the size of a normal haythatcher, since he just spotted it in the reeds.

    On page 171-172,
    >{even though there are animals that actually tended to their own young, even more are looking for a good nest to invade.}
    Generally that’s the gist of it. What Saki’s point is, compared to the past, there were many more brood parasite bird species, and also birds who would normally build their own nests but would practice brood parasitism is they came across an appropriate nest, and even birds that practice brood parasites on their own species (i.e. laying their eggs in another bird’s nest of the same species). So she thinks that the world of the birds is beyond help.

    >On page 173-174
    {The haythatcher sets up its convincing fake nest and eggs, and waits for birds to fall into its trap. It periodically patrols its nests, looking for new tributes.}
    The haythatcher takes advantage of the fact that there are many brood parasitic birds by building nests and laying fake eggs to fool them into laying eggs in its nest. In this way, all it has to do is wait and it will get a free meal of fresh bird eggs. (This is what Saki’s detailed description of brood parasitic bird species is leading up to.)

    >But I never knew it used the Devil’s Hand as a defense against rat snakes and rosary snakes until today.
    It’s not only defense, but an attack on competitors (?). Since they’re all snakes that eat bird eggs, the haythatcher preemptively “attacks” them by laying fake eggs with the Devil’s Hand to take out fellow predators.

    This part was really difficult with all the ecology and evironmental descriptions, which bordered on scientific at times, so I had to slow down when I was reading and I would have absolutely died if I had to translate it properly to English. I think you did a great job, and I can’t thank you enough for letting us read this novel.

 
     

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