Short Stories

The Queen of Birds

A long, long time ago, some old (but not necessarily wise) birds decided that they should have a Queen. However, they could not decide how or who to choose.

So messengers were sent to announce a great assembly …

Large birds…

Little birds…

Birds of the North… Birds of the South…

Birds from above… and from below…

Day and night birds.

Black and colored birds, birds from here and there, were summoned… birds from everywhere.

Finally all the birds gathered.

The oldest (and possibly wisest) of the old birds started the conference and announced the problem … How do we choose a Queen?

There was a silence of deliberation, consideration and reflection. Then came the answers …

– It should be the biggest bird! – said one.

– The smallest bird! Said another.

– The fastest bird! Said a third.

– The fastest runner!

– The longest…

– neck! – legs! – tail!

– The one with the greatest…

– Beak! – Egg! – Paws!

– The most colorful!

– The most melodious!

“The best nest,” said the weaver.

       “Most abundant,” said the sparrows.

“The bird with the most spots,” said a weak guinea fowl.

“The bird most like a branch,” said a branch.

– Me me me me me! Said a Mandarin.

Soon there were as many answers as birds. And the problem remained, but now it was bigger, louder, and moodier than before.

Finally, after much angry discussion, it was decided: the bird that could fly higher would be the queen. And since there were not enough birds that agreed with any other plan, the competition began.

All at once the birds rose to the sky. They flapped their wings, leapt, leapt, and crawled into the air like a roof of wings rising …

The struggling birds of great chatter, the restless finches and sparrows, the slow fluttering of gulls and oceanic birds, the invisible fluttering of hummingbirds, all soared higher … higher and higher, a column of birds circling the sky.

But above all of them came the patient eagle fluttering among rags of cloud.

“The eagle must be the queen,” said one smaller bird to another. And so a murmur spread through the crowd.

But when the eagle could no longer fly higher … A wren came out of its hiding place between the feathers of the eagle’s back and, furiously flapping its wings, rose into the cold, thin air … higher than the eagle, more higher than all other birds.

And so it was decided!

The wren and eagle nearly dropped to the ground where the wren hid in a thorny hedge, safe from the eagle’s furious gaze.

And so the wren became Queen of the birds. Because, as the older (and certainly the wisest) birds agreed, it was good to have the highest flying bird as Queen, but it was even better to have the smartest bird as Queen. Helen Ward The Queen of the Birds Lisbon, Editorial Way, 2003

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