A Flock of Birds–A tale from Ancient India

Wisdom Tales from Around the World by Heather Forest

Awareness.  Read this story out loud to the class.

A great flock of quail lived together in the forest.  Food was plentiful and life was peaceful.  One day a crafty hunter, who could imitate their song perfectly, came to the forest.  When he whistled, a great group of quail gathered in response.  When the flock landed on the ground, the hunter approached silently and threw a huge net over them.  With a hearty laugh, he slung the net over his shoulder and took the quail to market.  Each day he played his trick, and the flock grew smaller.

After some time, the wisest old quail assembled what was left of the flock and said, “The hunter is skilled and can easily trick you into his net.  If you work together, he cannot defeat you.”

The flock listened carefully to the old quail’s words.  The next time the hunter came and threw his net over a group of quail, they were not dismayed.  As one, they beat their wings.  They rose, taking the net with them.  They swooped down onto a tree.  As the net caught and snagged in the tree’s branches, the birds flew out from under it to freedom.

The hunter looked up in amazement and thought, “When the birds cooperate, I cannot capture them.  Each bird is small and yet together they can lift the net!”

The next day, the hunter again flung his net over a large group of quail as they pecked seeds on the ground.  Pleased with their mighty accomplishment of the day before, the quail began to beat their wings together.  Accidentally, one quail bumped into another and started a ruckus.  “Watch out!” squawked the bird.   “ You are stepping on my tail feathers.”

“Someone pushed me!” retorted the other with a hard peck.

“This is no time to fight,” scolded another still. “The hunter is almost here. We must all work together and peacefully fly as one.”

“You are not the mighty ruler!” sniped the first.  “Stop telling us what to do!”

While they squabbled and scolded,

Postured and fought,

The hunter arrived

And the birds were caught.

He scooped up his net

and proclaimed, “I’m the winner!

Together they’re strong.

Divided they are dinner.”


Understanding/Reflection.  Discussion Questions

*Can someone tell us what happened at the end of the story?

The birds were caught

*Why was the hunter able to catch them this time?

Because they fought with each other and didn’t work as a team

*What did the birds do differently on the day that they lifted the net and set themselves free?

They worked together as a team.

*Why was it important for the birds to work together as a team?

It saved their lives. They were able to lift the net when they cooperated

*Why is it important for us to work well with others as a team?A bad attitude weakens the entire team

People can accomplish great things when they work together and cooperate

There is a strength that comes to a group of people when they are united.

* Have you ever worked with a group of people (or a team) that was very united?  What was it like?  What happens when people start complaining?


Divide the class into two teams.  Give each team a stack of old newspapers and a roll of tape.  Tell them that they have 10 minutes to build a tower out of the newspaper. The goal is to build a taller tower than the other team.

After the teams are finished, and the teacher determines a winner, get the students talking about what it is like to be part of a team.

Possible questions to ask:

  1. How did your team come up the idea to build your tower?
  2. Why is it helpful to cooperate in an activity like this?
  3. What worked well in your team?
  4. What didn’t work so well in your team?  How could you improve next time?

Explain what it takes to work well with others.  Usually a leader emerges in a group.  It is important to listen to the ideas of others and accept what other people have to say.