How the Birds Chose a King
The Animals had chosen a king, so the birds thought that they should choose a king as well. But who? How to choose?
Grasswarbler had a plan.
“The power of a bird lies in his wings. We should hold a competition to see who can fly the highest. Whoever that is will be our new king,” he said.
“Yes,” said Vulture and Eagle, for this sounded like a very sound plan to them, and the other birds agreed.
The next morning all the birds gathered for the competition. Grasswarbler made them all stand in a line, making sure that he was next to Eagle, and at one, two, three, they all shot up into the air, using all the strength and power they could muster.
Some didn’t make it very far. Guineafowl and Franklin’s little wings weren’t up to the challenge of carrying their plump bodies, and they quickly snack back down to the ground. Some of the birds who made it further, like Ostrich, were burned by the sun. The feathers on his neck and head were evaporated by the heat and when he fell to the ground he broke all but two of his toes on each foot. Ostrich swore never to fly again. It had been so unpleasant for him.
One by one, birds fell out of the contest until only Eagle and Vulture were left. And Grasswarbler! For he had secretly hitched a ride on one of Eagle’s wing feathers when all of the birds had taken off and neither Vulture nor Eagle and any idea the little bird was with them.
“I can’t go any further,” sighed Vulture, as his strength finally started to give way, “You are the king, Eagle”
“No!” they heard a little voice cry, “I, Grasswarbler, am the king, for I have flown higher than both of you!”
The sly little bird had popped out from under Eagles wing and soared above them both.
“I can go higher still,” warned Eagle, and he set off again, not noticing that once agin little Grasswarbler had hitched a ride on his wing feather.
Up they flew, higher and higher, and each time Eagle declared himself winner, Grasswarbler would shoot out form his hiding place to be the higher bird.
When Eagle could go no further and with Grasswarbler always being the higher bird, they headed back down to the ground, landing among a cacophony of noise as all the birds sang, asking to know who had won. Who was their king? Eagle or Vulture?
“Neither of us,” sighed Eagle, “It’s Grasswarbler.” And Vulture agreed.
What?! This couldn’t be! The other birds wouldn’t have such a small bird as their king.
“Kill him!” they cried.
All the birds, big and small, dashed after Grasswarbler, trying to tear him apart. If it were not for the fact that Grasswarbler was so swift he surely would have perished. But he was, and quickly found a mouse hole in which to hide for his pursuers.
The other birds decided to wait him out. Surely, they thought, he would get hungry and thirsty and have to make his way out at some point. One by one the birds fell away from their guard duties in order to eat and drink, for it had been an exhausting day. Butcherbird was left to stand guard.
Midday turned to afternoon turned to evening and Butcherbird’s stomach began to rumble, for he had a good appetite. Surely Grasswarbler was so weak and hungry by now that he couldn’t possibly move, let alone crawl out of the little mouse hole. It would be safe for Butcherbird to leave for a short while to eat and drink.
Butcherbird had hardly left when Grasswarbler slipped out from his hiding place.
“What’s this?!” cried the other birds, “Grasswarbler has escaped!”
The other birds were furious with Butcherbird, but none would dare attack him as he was well know to be a formidable fighter, and they thought better of it. Even today, the other birds are not fond of him.
Butcherbird, meanwhile, is still trying to get at the little Grasswarbler, this is why he hangs all of the little birds he catches, hoping one of them will be the Grasswarbler.
So the birds have no king. Only Grasswarbler, who sometimes flits above the bushes, mocking the other birds, crying “I am king! I am king!”