Mama Bird Sings - A Short Story


A short story by, Melissa Ens 

Mama Bird lived in a lovely garden. She was a good mama and she was a good bird. Her morning songs filled the garden with joy and at night her babies loved snuggling in close, under her soft wings in their cozy nest.

Life was sweet.

One day, however, Mama Bird stopped singing. She was worried and unhappy and even a little bit scared.

Mama Bird knew the Keeper of the Garden could help her, if anyone could, so she called for him. (He was always nearby.)

With a kind smile on his face, the Keeper asked Mama Bird what was wrong.

"Hello, Mama Bird. I haven't heard you singing today! Has something stolen your sweet song?"

"Oh, Keeper," she sighed. "I couldn't sleep last night and was wondering if you would do something for me." Her feathers ruffled anxiously. "Could you, ummm, make me a shell?"

"A shell?" the Keeper replied, curious. "Like the seashells you see at the beach?"

Mama Bird laughed nervously. "Haha! Oh, no. Actually I want a turtle shell. Right here on my back."

"Really?" The Keeper was surprised.

"Yes. Really. I was also wondering," continued Mama Bird, now that she had found some courage, "if you would make me big and strong like Mama Elephant. And give me a voice like Papa Lion." She paused. "If it's not too much to ask, Sir."

The Keeper hid his smile because he could see she was very serious.

"My dear Mama Bird, whatever has made you ask for such things?" he asked.

Mama Bird sighed again, deeply this time. "Oh, Keeper. I have three babies. They're so young and I love them so much, but they are so fragile and what if one of them gets hurt? Or sick? What if Papa Bird is gone and I can't protect them or help them if there is danger? WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO? I just thought, maybe, if I could scare bad things away with a roar, like Papa Lion does, or if I could cover our nest with a shell, well, maybe I could keep them safe."

"Well, that explains two of your requests. But why do you want to be big and strong like Mama Elephant?" asked the Keeper.

"Oh, I don't even know. I just feel so little and weak when I'm next to Mama Elephant." Mama Bird sighed again, with longing and admiration. "She's just amazing. I wish I could be more like her."

"Come here, Mama Bird," said the Keeper, patting his shoulder with his hand. Mama Bird fluttered over and perched next to his ear.

“So you're tired of flying, are you?" the Keeper inquired.

“What? Oh my, no! I never get tired of flying! It's easy and SO much fun! Watch!" She flew a couple of circles around his head, just to prove it.

The Keeper laughed as she landed on his shoulder again.

"But you don't want to sing anymore?"

Mama Bird was shocked. (She almost fell off his shoulder!)

"What do you mean? Of course I want to sing! How would my babies go to sleep at night if I didn't sing to them? And who would wake up the garden at sunrise?"

"Well," said the Keeper, "you could roar like Papa Lion, couldn't you? That would certainly wake up the garden!” The Keeper smiled. “That is what you asked for, isn't it?"

The Keeper gently scooped Mama Bird into his hand so he could look right into her confused little face.

"It's true lion voices are good for scaring away enemies. But there's a reason you've never heard a lion sing."

"There is?" Mama Bird held her breath.

The Keeper whispered into her little birdie ear. "They can't."

"Can't what?" asked Mama Bird, looking back at him and cocking her head to the side.

"Lions can't sing!” said the Keeper.

Mama Bird was speechless. She thought everyone could sing!

The Keeper continued. “Lion voices are good for roaring, but not for singing."

"And another thing, Mama Bird. If I gave you a shell, like a turtle, your babies could sleep under you, but they wouldn't be able to FEEL you. They would only feel your hard shell. Not your downy body. Do you want them to sleep under a shell or snuggle under your wings?

It's true that mama turtles lay eggs like you do, but they are gone before their babies are born. Baby turtles never snuggle with their mothers in a nest. Shells are good for protecting, but not for snuggling."

Mama Bird could hardly bear the thought of not being able to pull her little ones close to her side where they love to sleep under her wings.

"Oh." She said quietly. "I didn't know."

The Keeper waited while Mama Bird thought about what he had said. All of a sudden she looked up again.

"Wait. You asked if I was tired of flying. Why? What did you mean?"

"Well," the Keeper said slowly, taking a deep breath. "If I make you big and strong like Mama Elephant..."

He stopped and waited.

Mama Bird knew. Her gaze lowered and she stared at a leaf on the ground below her. "If you make me strong like Mama Elephant, I won't be able to fly.” She sighed again. “I'll be too heavy."

The Keeper slowly nodded his head.

Mama Bird was quiet for a minute. She could hear some other birds chirping and lions roaring and elephants trumpeting off in the distance.

"But what about my babies?" she asked at last. "How can I keep them safe if I’m not big and strong and scary and don’t have a shell to cover them with?"

"Trust me with your babies, sweet Mama Bird. I'll tend to them when they're sick and watch out for predators. This is my garden, after all! Your job is to sing to them, to pull them close to your heart, and to teach them how to fly. It's what you do best!”

The Keeper scooped Mama Bird into his hands and placed her on a branch next to him. “Your nest, your songs, your gentleness, your wings, your smallness... They're all gifts for you and your family and friends, dear Mama Bird. You're not a mistake. You're a beautiful bird! You are just right! And the garden loves you just exactly the way you are."

With a wink, the Keeper whistled as he walked on to visit another part of the Garden as Mama Bird flew back to her nest and her little ones with a new peace in her heart. Maybe she wasn't scary like Papa Lion or strong like Mama Elephant or safe like she had imagined the turtles to be. But she was a bird!

She could fly!

She could sing!

She could snuggle in her cozy nest with her babies and they could be happy together.

The Keeper was near and promised to watch over them. Mama Bird's job was to trust him and to fill the garden with her songs.

So that's just what she did.


Lord, thank you for my strengths. Please forgive me for discounting them and wishing I were different. My strengths are part of how you made me to reflect you and your glory. But Lord, thank you also for my weaknesses. They keep me coming back to you for help every single day. May your power be perfected in my weaknesses even as you use the gifts you've given me for your kingdom. Teach us all to trust you with how you've created us. We are the work of your loving hands, made in your image. Thank You. 
In Jesus' Name, Amen

Originally published by Melissa Ens on May 13, 2018 at