Animal Fables: Magpie

treesI am writing a series of animal fables based on animals that live in a natural area near my home. I plan on making paintings as illustrations, and using as many references to the local landforms, climate, flora and fauna as possible. I have notes and rough outlines for several ideas, and I have finished the first draft of one of the stories. When the weather improves I plan to write while sitting in the park itself.



Have you heard Magpie screeching and squawking? It wasn’t always so. Magpie once had a beautiful song. She trilled and she chirruped in heart-lifting melodies. Her song called up visions of spring flowers and warm sunshine on your face. Coyote heard her song, and saw how she was boastful and making other animals feel insecure about their own music. He challenged her to a contest, where the winner would forever hold the title of the Most Beautiful Song.

“Ha! Coyote and his mournful howls will never be as sweet as my voice,” Magpie thought to herself. Coyote was better suited at harmonizing, but he was actually very good. You would hear the sound of your soul finding its place in the universe, your heartaches would heal.

Coyote also knew how Magpie felt about shiny things. He had found a shiny on the path and hidden it away in his den. The golden hour before sunset came and the animals gathered to hear the animal songs. Owl would have the final say who-oo-who-ooo had the Most Beautiful Song after the audience applause for each contestant. Poplar tree settled the crowd with a gentle poppling of her leaves, and coyote began his song. He howled low and forlornly, he recalled the beauty of leaves turning yellow before the snow flies, a feeling of serenity after a good meal. The animals cheered, moved by his song.

He had the shiny hidden, and waited for Magpie to take her place in the contestant’s spot. She was putting on a show of primping and preening, checking that her iridescent blues and greens would be caught by the fading light. “Get on with it!” grumped Badger.

“I think we all know Coyote sings well, but not to my level of standard,” Magpie said as she began to get ready to sing. Suddenly she noticed the shiny. Her eyes would not stop looking at its reflective surface and her desire to investigate it grew more important than the contest. She swooped down just to have a quick peck at it, the audience could wait. It stuck to her beak, “kreee!” She tried to shake it loose, “waak waaaak wak.” Coyote had put sticky tree sap on it. When Magpie got the shiny loose, she cleared her throat for her song, but the animals had already began voting. Coyote was the winner!

She was so embarrassed she never sang her beautiful song again. She built herself a fortress of sticks high up in a tree where she could hide from the other animals. If anyone comes near she comes out to squawk at them.


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