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Karana discovers two birds and their babies and sets about domesticating them. She puts them in a cage and keeps them as companions, and when they get too big for the cage, she clips their wings so they will stay nearby and not fly away.

The birds become tame and comfortable with her, eventually eating food out of her hand. She gives the birds meaningful names: Lurai, a name she'd envied, and Tainor, after one of the people killed when the Aleutians invaded.

The birds become important companions for Karana, who has been living with the harsh loss of the people around her. Though she is not able to recreate the community she lost, connecting with the birds, including giving them significant names, is a way to experience companionship once more.

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In Chapter 18, Karana comes across a pair of birds who give birth to babies. Karana puts them in a birdcage so that they can stay with her. The birds eventually outgrow the cage, so Karana clips their winds to prevent them from flying away. They take food from Karana’s hand and are eventually tamed to the point that she doesn’t need to clip their wings anymore. One bird she names Tainor, after a person she liked who was killed by the Aleuts. The other bird she calls Lurai, a name she always wanted.

The birds add to the themes of loss and the need for community. At this point in the story, Karana is starting to become self-reliant and achieve a hierarchy of authority by domesticating wild creatures. By not solely relying on senseless killing, Karana begins to develop compassion and love for those around her. By giving each a bird a name that is special to her, Karana is symbolically rebuilding the tribe that she initially lost.

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