THE EAGLE AND THE WREN

After a trip to Port Glasgow, on February 8, 2020, I read with Chikaima Maitea this story about an eagle and a smart, wee Wren. I hope you can enjoy like us it!


This is a tale from the Western isles, the beautiful Hebridean Islands that lie off the coast of Scotland in the waters of the Atlantic and whose next-door neighbour to the west is America.



A mighty eagle and a little wren began to talk one day.

“I am the greatest bird of the skies,” the mighty eagle boasted, “and all other must bow down before me.”

“What makes you so great,” asked the little wren, “that you think other birds should honour you in this way?”

“Look at my magnificent wings,” said the mighty eagle. He preened his feathers and spread out his huge wings. “Are these not the widest wings of any bird you have seen?”

“They are very wide indeed,” the little wren agreed. “But I don’t know if that makes you the greatest bird of all.”

“I am the greatest bird because I can rise higher in the sky and see further any other bird,” declared the mighty eagle.

“I am not so sure about that,” replied the little wren.

“Are you not, indeed?” The mighty eagle laughed scornfully. “I challenge thee to rise higher in the sky and see further thn me.”

With a noisy flapping of his wings the mighty eagle took off. He flew around in circles several times to get properly airborne. While the eagle was doing this the little wren flew straight up into the air.

As the mighty eagle rose into the sky he said, “Little wren! Where are you now?”

“Above thee,” replied the little wren.

The mighty eagle flapped his wings harder and climbed upwards.

“Little wren,” said the mighty eagle, “I can see the Isle of Skye and the Cuillins.”

“So can I,” said the little wren. “But I see further still. I can also see the Isle of Mull and Isle of Iona and the Isle of Staffa with the famous cave of Fingal.”

The mighty eagle was astonished that such a small bird as the wren could matche pace with him in this way. He beat his wings and flew even higher than before. “Now I can see Oban and the Whirpool of the Corryvreckan,” he said.

“So can I,” said the little wren. “But I see further still. I can also see Loch Lomond and Glasgow city and Stirling castle.”

Up and up the eagle soared and when he was sure he’d left the wren far below he called out, “Little wren, I can see the casles of Edinburgh and Balmoral.”

“So can I,” said the little wren. “But I see further still. I can also see Aviemore and Aberdeen and Loch Ness.”

The mighty eagle was furious. With a tremendous effort he strained and spread his wings as wide as possible and mounted as high as he could into the sky. He thought that the tiny wren could never keep up with him now so he shouted in his loudest voice, “I can see from Haddington to the High Islands.”

“So can I,” said the little wren. “But I see further still. I can also see from the far Shetlands to the Border country. I see all of Scotland.”

“I don’t understand,” said the mighty eagle. “I am the greatest bird of the air and king of the skies yet I cannot rise any higher or see further than I do now.”

“But I will always be able to see more than you,” said the little wren. “How can that be?” the mighty eagle asked.

And the little wren replied, “Oh mighty eagle, I am higher in the sky and can see further, for I am nestled among your feathers on your back here above thee.”

(from "An illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairytales" written by Theresa Breslin and Kate Leiper. )

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