National Geographic : 1955 Oct
486 Circular Cottages in a Miramar Holiday Resort Wear Gay, Tasseled Hats People occupy these huts only when attending sing-sings at festival time (pages 481-484). A 25-family unit, the house on left is half the length of an American football field; the author heard of one 300 yards long. It seemed incongruous that birds of para dise, so brilliant and delicate, should live in such moist, giantesque, subdued surroundings. They were as tiny jewels strewn about a corn field. Nevertheless, we found here six more specimens of our new dan. By the ninth day of our sojourn at this 7,500-foot camp, the trail we had hacked out toward Mount Ifal had become quite long. We set out at dawn. For six hard hours we slogged ahead, only to encounter a crevasse we couldn't cross. Next day we returned on what proved our last chance to reach the summit of the moun tain and to capture the elusive komdimkait. We attempted a circuitous detour of the crevasse and shortly ran into another barrier. Beyond, a ridge led directly to the bare rocky top, less than 1,000 feet above us. It might as well have been 10,000. Sadly we turned our backs on Mount Ifal and began the long journey back to camp, where, I knew, Mar garet awaited us with mingled anxiety and hope. Our adventures in New Guinea were vir tually at an end. We had collected 220 dif ferent species of birds, some of them rarities of the first magnitude. We had largely filled in the last great blank on the ornithological map of this dark, mysterious island. True, we had failed to locate the komdim kait. But, after the first pangs of disap pointment, I could not honestly say I was sorry. It will be a sad day for naturalists when the last shy unclassified bird is tracked down, preserved, described, and interred for ever in a scientific treatise. Would that there remained to be found a thousand komdimkaits on a hundred hostile, untouched islands!