Songbird: A Quick Told Tale

Once upon a time, there was a cranky young crow. Young crows, between nesting hours and before their initiation into becoming members of a murder, are sleek and gorgeous to no one but themselves. Even crow mothers, with the unwavering faith that only mothers have, worry on occasion, that their baby crow chick may never get the sleek, glossy uptown preen and polish of the rest of the flock. But they never squawk these fears. This particular young crow, Dugan, never seemed to get one tuft of feathers in its right spot. It always caused his pitch and yaw to sometimes awry, and in pecking order of dead squirrel feasts, sometimes he was pecked out of his place, or made late to a crow meetings, wherein the murder would have crow-y agenda items, such as “Opossums: How to Know if It’s Really Dead,” and “Glee Club Boosters.” He was seldom called upon to contribute to the discussion, and this put him all out of sorts, much like his bent feathers.

One sunny afternoon, a little sparrow flew near Dugan’s nesting branch. She had traveled far to seek some birds she had been told migrated to this forest. She was no ordinary little sparrow, for she was a wishing sparrow. Once in a blue moon, which this particular month of August was, in this year, on this branch, near this nest: two full moons in one month. For those who needed a wish, and were knowledgeable of the little sparrow, during those rare months when two full moons shone, they would pray to the sky spirits to send her their way. Snakes in the trees, bad chick falls, too many scarecrows and farmers with pellets; all these things contributed to birds’ worries, and their wishes for life to be better.

The little sparrow asked Dugan if he knew of the birds’ nesting area. They had been wishing for some cheering up, a friendly ‘hallo!’ and the little sparrow heard their wish. Dugan hid his cowlicked feathers and replied, “I’m about to go fly.” The little sparrow said, “Do not mean to trouble you, I just need to find these birds. They asked for my help.” Now Dugan had never heard of the magical little sparrow, though her legend was far and wide. Her reputation as being kind, generous, and caring for all was renowned in the songs, tweets and quorks of all manner of birds, from the tiniest finch to the grand albatross. But somehow Dugan, for reasons we do not know, (maybe he never listened to his mother, or maybe when his friends in the murder scoffed, he scoffed too) had either repressed his childhood memories of the wishing sparrow, or was not a believer. (Which is a shame, because if he had known better, she could have repaired his messy feathers.)

The little bird waited patiently, as patiently as she could, for she had other wishes to grant, and blue moon months are rare, rarer than Christmas morning for St. Nick, or candy corn dispersment for haunted Pumpkins. Dugan looked at her again, and asked, “What do you want?”

“I need to know if you know where this nest is–again, I am very sorry for the trouble.”

Dugan replied with “Do you see their nest here? No? Look for yourself, and shoo!”

The little sparrow tried one third and final time, not understanding how she could have gotten her information wrong. She was sure this was the tree where the birds in need nested, and this crow seemed like a good enough chap, and thought, maybe if she asked one more time….

That final request annoyed Dugan to his limits. He began to squawk and caw, loud enough for the entire forest to hear, “This little SPARROW is a PEST! All BEWARE CAW CAW!’ Not only did the birds in his tree hear him, but foxes perked up their ears, for now the location of a tasty snack was calling out. Some birds in the trees knew it was the wishing sparrow’s wings they heard, softly fluttering, but some did not, but all the birds took for cover when the rain started pouring down, and went to their nests a little more hungry, and sad for reasons they could not explain.

The little sparrow, ashamed and humiliated, flew away to another part of the world, for the first time wishes went ungranted, and the blue moon cried. A tiny bit of cheer and a pretty song went unheard.

Later, when the rain stopped, a fox picked out a bent feather from his muzzle, satisfied and full.

Moral of the story: Once you sing it, you can’t put the tune back in the beak. Or something like that.

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