D.J. Opperman, one of the most prominent Afrikaans poets of the 20th century, often used birds as symbols and metaphors to describe or reinforce human emotions or conduct. This is especially evident in Heilige beeste (1945), Negester oor Ninevé (1947), Komas uit 'n bamboesstok (1979), and a volume he was working on before he suffered a debilitating stroke, Sonklong oor Afrika. With reference to two unfinished poems from Sonklong oor Afrika, "Die goue snip van Afrika" and "Arende broei adellik", and without arguing for or against the posthumous publication of unfinished work, it is concluded that -
a. Opperman is not a traditional nature poet; his poetry is anthropocentric rather than ecocentric;
b. the alternative text proposed for "Die goue snip van Afrika" provides a more accurate ornithological description of the behaviour of the painted snipe (goudsnip) than the Kannemeyer text; and
c. the descriptions of the behaviour and habits of the painted snipe and the eagles in these two works are bio-regionally accurate.
Especially readers with a sound knowledge of birds will have an enriching experience when reading or rereading Opperman's poetry.