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Bird Stories 1

Hawk's Sewing Needle (Kenya)

Keywords: hawk, chicken

Summary: Long ago, mother birds had to sew feather suits for their children. Unfortunately, Chicken lost her needle, so she borrowed on from her friend Hawk. But when she forgot to return the needle, Hawk came looking for Chicken, but Chicken and her children hid every time that Hawk came by. Finally the angry Hawk yelled into the forest to tell Chicken that from now on, since she couldn't sew feather suits for her children, then she would take the feather suits from the chickens. That's how it is to this day. Hawks hunt chickens and chickens scratch and peck at the ground in search of Hawk's sewing needle.

I learned this story from a college friend, Chrissy Watson, when she was teaching English in Kenya with the Peace Corps in 1991. As a class project, Chrissy had her students collect traditional stories from their family members and then translate them into English.

"Hawk and Grouse," on page 31 in Kevin Strauss, Loon and Moon: and other animal stories (Ely, MN: Raven Productions, 2005). 48pp. $12.95pa. ISBN 0-9766264-3-8pa.

Find another version in Kevin Strauss, Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006). 230pp. $35.00pa. ISBN 1-59158-269-5pa.

 

Eagle’s Hunt, Crow’s Sorrow (Aesop)

Keywords: eagle, crow, lamb, sheep, failure

Summary: One day, Crow saw Eagle swoop down and snatch a lamb, carrying it off to a cliff for dinner. Crow thought, “That doesn’t look so hard.” But he was really hungry, so he looked for the biggest sheep in the field. He swooped down and grabbed it with his claws. Not only did the sheep not move, Crow got his claws tangled in its wool. Crow flapped so hard that the shepherd soon discovered him. The shepherd clipped the Crow’s wings, untangled his feet from the wool and took him home for a pet. After that, the Crow warned all the other crows to stay well clear of living sheep, and that’s how it is today.

Handford, S. A. Aesop's Fables (New York: Puffin, 1994). 212pp. ISBN 0-14-130929-6.

Zipes, Jack ed., Aesop's Fables (New York: Signet Classic, 1992). 288pp. ISBN 0-451-52565-5pa.

 

The Birds Choose a King (India)

Keywords: owl, crow, eagle

Summary: When Owl started getting old (an some say, lazy) he started plotting how to get the birds to bring him food. He decided to get them to choose him as their king. But during the discussion, a Crow arrived and told the birds how foolish they would be to name Owl their king, since he is only awake at night and couldn't protect them during the day. After that, owls and crows have been enemies.

"The Birds Elect a King," on page 104 in Krishna Dharma, Panchatantra (Badger, CA: Torchlight Publishing, 2004). $12.95pa. ISBN 1-887089-45-4pa.

"How the Birds Picked a King," on page 304 in Arthur W. Ryder, The Panchatantra (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925).

Find another version in Kevin Strauss, Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006). 230pp. $35.00pa. ISBN 1-59158-269-5pa.

 

Buzzard's Bald Head (Nicaragua)

Keywords: buzzard, turkey vulture, bald head, rabbit, feathers

Summary: Buzzard decided to play a trick on clever Rabbit by telling him there was a part in skyland and that he would give Rabbit a ride there. Rabbit grabbed his guitar and climbed on Buzzard's back. But once they were in the air, Buzzard tried to shake Rabbit off, so he would fall to the ground. The angry Rabbit hit Buzzard over the head with the guitar, jamming Buzzards head in the instrument and stunning him. Rabbit opened Buzzards wings and glided to a landing. When Buzzard tried to pull off the guitar, it scraped all the feathers off of his head and that is why he is bald today.

Jagendorf, M. A. Treasury of Latin American Folk Stories (New York, NY: Vanguard, 1960).

Miller, Candace R., ed., Tales from the Bird Kingdom: More Than 160 Legends and Pourquoi Stories About Birds (Lima, OH: Pourquoi Press, 1996). 94pp. $20.00pa. E-mail: naturelegends@wcoil.com

 

Condor As King of the Birds (Bolivia)

Keywords: condor (vulture), hawk, eagle, contest

Summary: On day, the birds decided they needed a king and decided that since flying was the thing that birds do best, the bird who could fly the highest should be their king. Early the next morning the birds gathered in a clearing and when Owl hooted “go” they leapt into the sky. As the birds climbed and climbed, it wasn’t long before the smaller birds tired. Soon only Condor, Hawk and Eagle were still in the race. But the sun was so hot that Hawk turned back. The sun’s heat was so great that it began scorching Condor and Eagle’s head feathers, turning them white. Finally Eagles couldn’t take the heat and turned back. But Condor kept on flying, even after his feathers burned away. That is why Condor is the King of the Birds and why he and all his children, have bald heads.

Jagendorf, M. A. Treasury of Latin American Folk Stories. (New York, NY: Vanguard, 1960).

Miller, Candace R., ed. Tales from the Bird Kingdom: More Than 160 Legends and Pourquoi Stories about Birds. (Lima, OH: Pourquoi Press, 1996). 94pp. $20.00pa. E-mail: naturelegends@wcoil.com.

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(c) 2006 Tales with Tails Storytelling Programs

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