The Sioux tell of the meaning of various bird omens.
When whippoorwills sing together at night, “Hohin, hohin,” one says in reply, “No.” If the birds stop talking at once, then the person will die soon. But if the birds continue talking, then the man will live a long time.
The gray screech owl foretells cold weather. When the night is to be very cold, then the owl cries out; it sounds just as if a person’s teeth chattered. When the owl cries out, all people wrap themselves in their thickest robes; and they put plenty of wood on the fires.
The Ski-bi-bi-la is a small gray bird, with a black head, and spotted on the breast. It lives in the woods, and it answers a person who calls to it. When this bird says, “Has it returned?” people are glad. They know that spring is near. When a boy hears the bird ask this question, he runs to his mother; she tells him he must answer, “No; it has not yet returned.”
When the people first hear the cry of the nighthawk in the spring, they begin to talk of hunting buffalo. This is because when the hawk returns, the buffaloes have become fat again and the birds bring the news.