Why The Magpie's Nest Is Not Well Built

: The Book Of Nature Myths

A long time ago all the birds met together to talk about building nests.

"Every Indian has a wigwam," said the robin, "and every bird needs a


"Indians have no feathers," said the owl, "and so they are cold without

wigwams. We have feathers."

"I keep warm by flying swiftly," said the swallow.

"And I keep warm by fluttering my wings," said the humming-bird.

"By and by we shall have our little ones," said the robin. "They will

have no feathers on their wings, so they cannot fly or flutter; and they

will be cold. How shall we keep them warm if we have no nests?"

Then all the birds said, "We will build nests so that our little ones

will be warm."

The birds went to work. One brought twigs, one brought moss, and one

brought leaves. They sang together merrily, for they thought of the

little ones that would some time come to live in the warm nests.

Now the magpie was lazy, and she sat still and watched the others at

their work.

"Come and build your nest in the reeds and rushes," cried one bird, but

the magpie said "No."

"My nest is on the branch of a tree," called another, "and it rocks like

a child's cradle. Come and build beside it," but the magpie said "No."

Before long all the birds but the magpie had their nests built. The

magpie cried, "I do not know how to build a nest. Will you not help me?"

The other birds were sorry for her and answered, "We will teach you."

The black-bird said, "Put the twigs on this bough;" the robin said, "Put

the leaves between the twigs;" and the humming-bird said, "Put this soft

green moss over it all."

"I do not know how," cried the magpie.

"We are teaching you," said the other birds. But the magpie was lazy,

and she thought, "If I do not learn, they will build a nest for me."

The other birds talked together. "She does not wish to learn," they

said, "and we will not help her any longer." So they went away from her.

Then the magpie was sorry. "Come back," she called, "and I will learn."

But by this time the other birds had eggs in their nests, and they were

busy taking care of them, and had no time to teach the lazy magpie. This

is why the magpie's nest is not well built.