The birds of the jungle had no king. It was a real embarrassment for them since everyone else in the jungle had kings.
A king is someone who heads the flock and decides every thing for them. All the birds decided they too needed a king. The called a meeting to resolve the problem.
But who will be the king?
The Mynah had an idea. “Let the bird who can fly the highest be made king of the air,” she said.
One of the birds, the Eagle, was a boast. He was big and strong, and was sure that he would win.
He strutted around, and asked: “Why not make me king now? You know I can fly the highest.”
“Still, you may not win,” piped a little voice. Eagle turned to see who had said that. It was the Sparrow. “Oh!”, he said in a mocking voice. “And who’s going to beat me? You,” he asked, letting out a loud, crackling laugh.
The little birds, the middle-sized birds and the big birds, all got ready for the race. It was decided that Owl should start the race. When everyone were ready, the Owl cried, “Whoo, whoo!”
As soon as the owl signalled, all the birds took to the air.
Up, up, up they went, far into the blue sky.
But they could not fly very high and very fast for long. One by one, they dropped out of the race. Only the Eagle went on flying, as strong as ever.
“High, high… I’m a bird in the sky… I’m an eagle that flies so high,” he sang. At length, he looked below him and saw that all the birds had given up.
“Oh! What did I say”, he exclaimed. “I am king of the air and all the birds that fly.”
What the Eagle did not know was that the tiny Sparrow had been flying under his wing. The moment he stopped, Sparrow darted out. He flew just above the Eagle’s head and cried out, “No, no, no Mr Eagle. I’m king of the birds. Look, I’ve flown higher than you.”
All the birds agreed with the Sparrow. In any case, they were glad to see the proud Eagle beaten. He had boasted too much. They chose Sparrow as their king.
Eagle did not like this at all. He could not bear to see the crown being placed on the Sparrow’s head. So he caught the little bird in his claws and threw him to the ground.
Although Sparrow did not get hurt, he found that the Eagle had torn away half his tail. “Oh well! I’ll still be king”, he told himself.
And ever since, Sparrow has had a short tail.