The Legend of the Partridge
Last updated 3/23/2016 at 7:03pm
All the song birds in the forest had stopped singing. They were afraid of a giant hawk that had just moved into the forest and was killing the small songbirds. They stopped singing because when the hawk heard them singing he'd swoop down, grab them with his talons and carry them away and eat them.
Only the partridge was safe from the hawk because his brown feathers blended with the dirt and weeds and the partridge didn't sing pretty songs or fly higher than a bush so the hawk never saw him.
The song birds had beautiful, bright feathers and had often made fun of the poor partridge who couldn't sing, couldn't soar above the trees and whose feathers were so dull.
"Don't you wish you were beautiful like us and don't you wish you could sing like we do and don't you wish you could fly higher than the trees?" the cardinal mocked.
The song birds wanted to leave the forest before all of them were killed by the hawk but they were afraid to fly and they couldn't walk miles to another forest or they'd be eaten by foxes. They felt they were doomed.
"You could escape by water, the hawk would never expect you to float down the creek until you got miles away and were safe in another forest," the partridge said.
"We can't swim, we are song birds, not ducks!" a robin mocked the partridge. "I've watched you make strong nests from twigs and grass, if you make your nests on the bank of the creek and then push them into the water and jump into your nests, they will float for miles, the hawk will never see you and you can escape," the partridge said. "Use your wings as oars to guide your nest like it is a canoe."
All the birds did as the partridge said and as the other birds left and floated away, the partridge pushed her own nest into the water and jumped in and tried to paddle with his short wings but his nest was round and he only went in circles until he gave up and hopped back onto dry land. The song birds all laughed at the partridge who was going in circles but none of them offered to share their nest and help the partridge.
The hawk discovered all the song birds had left the forest and he never saw the partridge who hid in the bushes and tall grass so the hawk flew far away to look for easy prey in some other valley.
When the song birds learned the hawk was gone and they were safe they returned to their homes.
"You saved us, you can be one of us now," the robin said. "Fly up here and sit in a tree and we will teach you to sing."
"You like me now because I saved you...but I saved you because I liked you. If I had not saved you, you would not want to be my friends now. I'm glad you are safe and singing again, but I will stay on the ground and scurry through the bushes like my true friends who liked me the way I was and the way I am. I will scurry through the grass with the mice and squirrels and rabbits while you sit on your branches high above and look down on me like you always have," the partridge said.
The song birds were sorry for the way they had treated the partridge but they knew he had spoken the truth. To this day the partridge stays away from water, builds it's nest on the ground and never flies higher than a bush. A wise bird knows true friends never look down on him.
Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins. All her books are available from Indian Life.