The Birds' Christmas
- Founded on Fact by By F.E. Mann
"Cheerup, cheerup, chee-chee!
Cheerup, cheerup, chee-chee!"
"Rap-atap-atap-atap!" went the woodpecker; "Mrs.
Chickadee may speak first."
"Friends," began Mrs. Chickadee, "why
do you suppose I called you together?"
"Because it's the day before Christmas," twittered Snow Bunting. "And you're going to give a Christmas party," chirped the Robin. "And you want us all to come!" said Downy Woodpecker. "Hurrah!
Three cheers for Mrs. Chickadee!"
"Hush!" said Mrs. Chickadee, "and I'll
tell you all about it. To-morrow IS Christmas Day, but I don't
want to give a party."
"Chee, chee, chee!" cried Robin Rusty-breast; "chee,
"Just listen to my little plan," said Mrs. Chickadee, "for,
indeed, I want you all to help. How many remember Thistle Goldfinch--the
happy little fellow who floated over the meadows through the
summer and fall?"
"Cheerup, chee-chee, cheerup, chee-chee, I do," sang the Robin; "how
he loved to sway on thistletops!"
"Yes," said Downy Woodpecker, "and
didn't he sing? All about blue skies, and sunshine and happy
days, with his 'Swee-e-et-sweet-sweet-sweet-a-twitter-witter-witter-witter-wee-twea!'"
"Ter-ra-lee, ter-ra-lee," said Snow Bunting. "We've
all heard of Thistle Goldfinch, but what can he have to do
with your Christmas party? He's away down South now, and wouldn't
care if you gave a dozen parties."
"Oh, but he isn't; he's right in these
"Why, you don't mean--"
"Indeed I do mean it, every single
word. Yesterday I was flitting about among the trees, peeking
at a dead branch here, and a bit of moss there, and before
I knew it I found myself away over at the other side of the
woods! 'Chickadee-dee-dee, chickadee-dee-dee!' I sang, as I
turned my bill toward home. Just then I heard the saddest little
voice pipe out: 'Dear-ie me! Dear-ie me!' and there on the
sunny side of a branch perched a lonesome bit of yellowish
down. I went up to see what it was, and found dear little Thistle
Goldfinch! He was very glad to see me, and soon told his short
story. Through the summer Papa and Mamma Goldfinch and all
the brothers and sisters had a fine time, singing together,
fluttering over thistletops, or floating through the balmy
air. But when 'little Jack Frost walked through the trees,'
Papa Goldfinch said: 'It is high time we went South!' All were
ready but Thistle; he wanted to stay through the winter, and
begged so hard that Papa Goldfinch soberly said: 'Try it, my
son, but do find a warm place to stay in at night.' Then off
they flew, and Thistle was alone. For a while he was happy.
The sun shone warm through the middle of the day, and there
were fields and meadows full of seeds. You all remember how
sweetly he sang for us then. But by and by the cold North Wind
came whistling through the trees, and chilly Thistle woke up
one gray morning to find the air full of whirling snowflakes
He didn't mind the light snows, golden-rod and some high grasses
were too tall to be easily covered, and he got seeds from them.
But now that the heavy snows have come, the poor little fellow
is almost starved, and if he doesn't have a warm place to sleep
in these cold nights, he'll surely die!"
Mrs. Chickadee paused a minute. The
birds were so still one could hear the pine trees whisper.
Then she went on: "I comforted the poor little fellow as best
I could, and showed him where to find a few seeds; then I flew
home, for it was bedtime. I tucked my head under my wing to
keep it warm, and thought, and thought, and thought; and here's
"We Chickadees have a nice warm home
here in the spruce trees, with their thick, heavy boughs to
shut out the snow and cold. There is plenty of room, so Thistle
could sleep here all winter. We would let him perch on a branch,
when we Chickadees would nestle around him until he was as
warm as in the lovely summer tine. These cones are so full
of seeds that we could spare him a good many; and I think that
you Robins might let him come over to your pines some day and
share your seeds. Downy Woodpecker must keep his eyes open
as he hammers the trees, and if he spies a supply of seeds
he will let us know at once. Snow Bunting is only a visitor,
so I don't expect him to help, but I wanted him to hear my
plan with the rest of you. Now you WILL try, won't you, EVERY
"Cheerup, cheerup, ter-ra-lee! Indeed
we'll try; let's begin right away! Don't wait until to-morrow;
who'll go and find Thistle?"
"I will," chirped Robin Rusty-breast, and off he flew to the place which Mrs. Chickadee had told of, at the other side of the wood. There, sure enough, he found Thistle Goldfinch sighing: "Dear-ie me! dear-ie me! The winter is so cold and I'm here all alone!" "Cheerup, chee-chee!" piped
"Cheerup, cheerup, I'm here! I'm here
and I mean to stay. What if the winter is drear-- Cheerup,
"But the snow is so deep," said Thistle,
and the Robin replied:
"Soon the snows'll be over and gone,
Run and rippled away; What's the use of looking forlorn? Cheerup,
cheerup, I say!"
Then he told Thistle all their plans, and wasn't Thistle surprised? Why, he just couldn't believe a word of it till they reached Mrs. Chickadee's and she said it was all true. They fed him and warmed him, then settled themselves for a good night's rest.
Christmas morning they were chirping gaily, and Thistle was trying to remember the happy song he sang in the summer time, when there came a whirr of wings as Snow Bunting flew down.
"Ter-ra-lee, ter-ra-lee, ter-ra-lee," said he, "can
you fly a little way?"
"Oh, yes," replied Thistle. "I THINK
I could fly a LONG way."
"Come on, then," said Snow Bunting. "Every one who wants a Christmas dinner, follow me!" That
was every word he would say, so what could they do but follow?
Soon they came to the edge of the wood, and then to a farmhouse. Snow Bunting flew straight up to the piazza, and there stood a dear little girl in a warm hood and cloak, with a pail of bird-seed on her arm, and a dish of bread crumbs in her hand. As they flew down, she said:
"And here are some more birdies who have come for a Christmas dinner. Of course you shall have some, you dear little things!" and
she laughed merrily to see them dive for the crumbs.
After they had finished eating, Elsie
(that was the little girl's name) said: "Now, little birds,
it is going to be a cold winter, you would better come here
every day to get your dinner. I'll always be glad to see you."
"Cheerup chee-chee, cheerup chee-chee! thank you, thank you," cried the Robins. "Ter-ra-lee, ter-ra-lee, ter-ra-lee! thank you, thank you!" twittered
"Chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee, chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee! how kind you are!" sang
And Thistle Goldfinch? Yes, he remembered his summer song, for he sang as they flew away:
- The Robin's song is from "Bird Talks," by
Mrs. A.D.T. Whitney.
- The fact upon which this story is based--that is
of the other birds adopting and warming the solitary Thistle
Goldfinch--was observed near Northampton, Mass., where robins
and other migratory birds sometimes spend the winter in the
thick pine woods.