The Colour of the Churrinche

Ulian was a little Indian who had the capacity to speak with the plants and the animals of the forest, and on a certain day found a small grey little bird crying so forlorn that he wanted to know what had happened to him. The churrinche, such was the name of the solitary bird, said him that he felt sad, ugly and embarrassed because all his plumage was grey and the other birds considered it insignificant. Ulian tried to convince him that he was as useful and beautiful as any other bird, but the churrinche didn't want to believe it.

While both conversed, from the depth of the forest they were observed by an evil giant that had for a long time coveted the magic abilities of Ulian. The ogre felt so much hate and envy for the powers of the little Indian that had it had decided to kill him. In a wink, he captured and led him to a cave, covering the entrance with a great stone.

Everything seemed to point towards a miserable end to the life of Ulian, but the churrinche found a small open fissure, and through it battled his way to the interior of the cavern. With his weak beak he tried to untie the ropes that immobilised to the prisoner, but he had so little strength that could not get them undone. When the giant realised their presence, he roared so strongly that this pulled up all the feathers of his crest. Ulian requested him to look for help from the inhabitants of the forest, so the little bird courageously made a rapid return to the open.

When he arrived to a clearing in which the animals used to meet, he forgot his shame and told them what was happening. The animals quickly devised a plan in order to rescue their friend: the tucutuco would dig a tunnel from their den to the cave to take out Ulian through.

At night the tucutuco began to dig, and the others animals helped to clear the tunnel. When they finally arrived to the cavern wall, they listened to knocking sounds Ulian made hitting with his feet against the ground in order to indicate his position and, in utmost silence, the tucutuco dug a great hole.

The churrinche, meanwhile, entered again into the cave in order to accompany Ulian. The animals decided to drag the prisoner, still bound and gagged, through the newly dug tunnel. When they were beginning the journey, the giant woke up and roared ferociously. The churrinche was greatly scared but thought he should warn his friends, so he tried to scream as loudly as the giant had done. The ogre became so furious at him that he threw a thick sharp thorn that penetrated deeply into the chest of the bird, and then began pursuing him. The other animals took advantage of this distraction to continue with the rescue, and when the churrinche was sure that Ulian was safe and sound, he flew up to the forest where he fell faint.

A lark picked him up it and took him to Ulian, who, with a few magic passes, cured him. The little Indian felt so grateful for the sacrifice of the little bird that decided to beautify him with the colour of the blood that had sprouted of his small chest, as a symbol of his courage and bravery.

And so, from that day, the churrinche of meagre grey plumage now has a brilliant red colour that is the envy of all the other birds.

Fernando Gonzalez Gentile.

This little bird is not common in my country, Uruguay, even though it is quite frequently seen in neighbouring Argentina. So it was special to me to take the chance to capture an image of this honoured little creature.

See also: del Churrinche.asp