Why the Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their
by Florence Holbrook
Winter was coming, and the birds had
far to the south, where the air was warm and they
could find berries to eat. One little bird had
broken its wing and could not fly with the others.
It was alone in the cold world of frost and snow.
The forest looked warm, and it made its way to
the trees as well as it could, to ask for help.
First it came to a birch tree. "Beautiful birch
tree," it said, "my wing is broken, and my friends
have flown away. May I live among your
branches till they come back to me?"
"No, indeed," answered the birch tree, drawing
her fair green leaves away. "We of the great
forest have our own birds to help. I can do
nothing for you."
"The birch is not very strong," said the little
bird to itself, "and it might be that she could not
hold me easily. I will ask the oak." So the bird
said, "Great oak tree, you are so strong, will you
not let me live on your boughs till my friends
come back in the springtime?"
"In the springtime!" cried the oak. "That is a
long way off. How do I know what you might do
in all that time? Birds are always looking for
something to eat, and you might even eat up some
of my acorns."
"It may be that the willow will be kind to me,"
thought the bird, and it said, "Gentle willow, my
wing is broken, and I could not fly to the south
with the other birds. May I live on your branches
till the springtime?"
The willow did not look gentle then, for she
drew herself up proudly and said, "Indeed, I do
not know you, and we willows never talk to people
whom we do not know. Very likely there are
trees somewhere that will take in strange birds.
Leave me at once."
The poor little bird did not know what to do.
Its wing was not yet strong, but it began to fly
away as well as it could. Before it had gone far a
voice was heard. "Little bird," it said, "where
are you going?"
"Indeed, I do not know," answered the bird
sadly. "I am very cold."
"Come right here, then," said the friendly
spruce tree, for it was her voice that had called.
"You shall live on my warmest branch all winter
if you choose."
"Will you really let me?" asked the little bird
"Indeed, I will," answered the kind-hearted
spruce tree. "If your friends have flown away, it
is time for the trees to help you. Here is the
branch where my leaves are thickest and softest."
"My branches are not very thick," said the
friendly pine tree, "but I am big and strong, and
I can keep the North Wind from you and the
"I can help, too," said a little juniper tree. "I
can give you berries all winter long, and every
bird knows that juniper berries are good."
So the spruce gave the lonely little bird a home;
the pine kept the cold North Wind away from it;
and the juniper gave it berries to eat. The other
trees looked on and talked together wisely.
"I would not have strange birds on my
boughs," said the birch.
"I shall not give my acorns away for any one,"
said the oak.
"I never have anything to do with strangers,"
said the willow, and the three trees drew their
leaves closely about them.
In the morning all those shining, green leaves
lay on the ground, for a cold North Wind had
come in the night, and every leaf that it touched
fell from the tree.
"May I touch every leaf in the forest?" asked
the wind in its frolic.
"No," said the Frost King. "The trees that
have been kind to the little bird with the broken
wing may keep their leaves."
This is why the leaves of the spruce, the pine,
and the juniper are always green.