How Eagle Got a Crooked Beak

This is just a fun little parable type story I came up with the other day out of the clear blue sky. It is purely fictional. 

Five sheep lived on a grassy green hillside. Life was good. The sun was warm but not too hot, the grass was sweet and tender, never in short supply. A spring bubbled up from granite boulders at the lower end of the pasture, and the water was cold and refreshing and plentiful. When the sun became too hot the sheep stood in the shade of an ancient oak tree at the top of the hill where the breeze always blew cool and fresh.

One day as the sheep were happily grazing, a golden eagle soared overhead, screeching its terrifying call. The sheep had never seen an eagle before but they knew enough to be scared. They ran under the oak tree and huddled together, frightened. The eagle landed atop the oak tree and looked down at the terrified sheep with its peculiar way of looking first out of one eye and then the other, twisting and turning its head to get a better view.

“I’m hungry,” screeched Eagle. “Where are your little lambs?”

“We have no lambs,” replied the sheep. “We are yearling ewes and have not yet been introduced to a ram.”

“You are too large for me, so I shall go in search of smaller prey. But be warned, if I see you again I will be tempted to eat you,” said Eagle, leaping into the air and flapping her mighty wings effortlessly.

For the rest of the day the sheep were too frightened to leave the shelter of the oak tree. They stood in a tight huddle, shivering in fear. At dusk, Coyote came trotting into the pasture. Coyote was well known to the ewes, she often came by to tease them. She was always playing pranks on them because she considered them dim-witted and slow.

“Hey sheep!” yelled Coyote. “Why are you huddled together in fear? You look as if you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“We are afraid of Eagle,” replied the sheep. “Today Eagle soared overhead and said she would eat us if she saw us in the pasture again.”

“It is good to be afraid,” replied Coyote, “for Eagle is a fearsome hunter. She swoops down from the sky and sinks her talons deep into her prey’s flesh. I have seen her carry away good sized lambs that I myself would have thought twice about tackling.”

“What should we do?” asked the sheep.

“Let me think about it,” replied Coyote. “I will devise a plan. I don’t like Eagle either. I fear one day she will even swoop down and carry me away, or my pups. I’ll be back tomorrow. But in the meanwhile I suggest you eat at night because Eagle doesn’t hunt by night.”

“Thank you, Coyote,” replied the sheep.

Coyote went off on her nightly rounds, hunting mice and voles in the meadow, and was lucky to surprise an unsuspecting cottontail that would provide a huge meal for her pups. By sunrise Coyote had returned to her den to feed her pups, and had thought of the perfect plan to teach Eagle a lesson.

The next day Coyote ventured out to a nearby meadow where Eagle had built her nest high in the top of a dead pine tree. Coyote stood below the nest and called up to Eagle.

“Hello! Eagle are you home?”

Eagle peered down at Coyote from her lofty nest, cocking her head to focus with first the left, then the right eye.

“What do you want, Coyote? Go away before I swoop down and eat you.”

“I wouldn’t advise that, Eagle. My feet are fast and my teeth are sharp. If you attempt to eat me you may be surprised to end up my dinner instead. Don’t give me your idle threats, I’m here to offer you a deal.”

“What sort of deal do you have to offer me? Why should I listen to a pesky four-legged mammal? You can’t even fly. What could you possibly have to offer me?”

“How about a tasty meal of yearling sheep?”

“And how do you propose to capture them, clever Coyote? They are too large for me to take down with my talons and they are too quick for your little feet.”

“Aha, they may be large and swift, but they are stupid and naïve. They will believe anything I tell them. For some reason they trust me. I have the perfect plan to lure them into the open where you can swoop down and grab them. The moment you grab them from above with your talons I will grab their throats with my teeth and together we will bring them to the ground. Then we will share the meal.”

“Yes, perhaps this could work,” replied Eagle. “But how can I trust you? Why would you want to help me?”

“You can’t trust me, and I can’t trust you. But if we cooperate we can both help each other obtain a meal that we couldn’t otherwise obtain on our own,” replied Coyote. “Just come to the sheep’s pasture this afternoon and keep quiet. Don’t screech and announce your presence. Soar overhead where they can’t see you, but be prepared to swoop when you hear my signal.”

“Alright, Coyote, I will give you one chance. But if you screw this up I will swoop down upon you instead and have you for dinner.”

“We’ll see about that, Eagle,” said Coyote, before running off toward the sheep’s pasture.

When she reached the sheep’s pasture, Coyote was pleased to see the ewes still huddled under the oak tree in fear.

“Hey there, sheep, have you been standing under this oak tree since yesterday?”

“No, we went out to eat and drink water last night under the full moon but we heard a terrible screech and came running back to the tree because we were certain it was Eagle hunting under the light of the moon.”

“Silly sheep,” laughed Coyote. “That was just Owl. She is much too small to harm you. Owl was just out hunting for mice. I myself ran into her last night and chatted for a bit about the best hunting grounds for voles. You sheep really are silly if you are scared of Owl.”

“But the screech of Owl sounds just like Eagle’s, how were we to know that she wouldn’t harm us?”

“Didn’t I tell you that Eagle does not hunt by night? I thought you sheep trusted me. I told you it would be safe to graze at night, but you didn’t listen to me. Now you are hungry and thirsty and it is daylight, the time when Eagle is most dangerous.”

“Oh, Coyote, what shall we do?” asked the sheep. The day was growing warm and they were thirsty. The lure of the cold spring water was more than they could bear.

“Okay, here’s what we’ll do,” replied Coyote. “I will keep watch for Eagle while you eat some grass and drink some water. If I see her soaring overhead I will howl and that is your signal to run for the tree. Okay?”

“Oh thank you, Coyote,” replied the grateful sheep. “You are a true friend.”

As the sheep were drinking their fill of cold spring water near the granite boulders, coyote sat perched atop a nearby rock keeping an eye on the sky. Soon enough the outline of Eagle could be seen soaring overhead against the clouds. But Coyote remained silent. Eyeing the sheep, Coyote could see that they were so busy quenching their thirst that they had no idea that danger lurked overhead.

Suddenly Coyote let out her highest-pitched howl, tilting her head back, mouth pointed at the sky, she screamed “Eagle!”

The sheep were so frightened they didn’t know what to do. Instead of bolting for the shelter of the tree, they froze, standing in place among the boulders at the spring. In a flash Eagle came swooping down with terrifying speed. She selected she smallest ewe and sunk her talons as deeply as she could into the sheep’s back. But Eagle had never attacked a full grown sheep before and she had no way of knowing that a thick layer of wool grows over their skin. Instead of sinking her talons deep into the sheep’s flesh, she merely grabbed two handfuls of wool.

“Help me, Coyote! I have one! Now grab the throat!”

But instead of attacking the sheep, Coyote merely remained where she was, perched atop her rock, laughing riotously as Eagle struggled with the heavy ewe. Eagle flapped and flapped but was not able to take flight with the big sheep in her talons. Instead, the wool pulled free and Eagle suddenly launched forth clutching nothing but wool. Unexpectedly light all of the sudden, Eagle was thrown off balance and slammed face first into a granite boulder. Her beak was bent downward at an ugly angle.

“I’ll get you for this!” screamed Eagle, launching into the sky, but Coyote just sat where she was, laughing and laughing.

From that day on Eagle never attacked full grown sheep again. Each time you hear Coyote howling she is laughing at Eagle and her ugly bent nose.

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