The Battle of the Birds

The Battle of the Birds

The Battle of the Birds is a Scottish fairy tale collected by John Francis Campbell in his "Popular Tales of the West Highlands". He recorded it from a fisherman near Inverary, John Mackenzie. Joseph Jacobs took it from there for his "Celtic Fairy Tales" and added some additional elements.

Andrew Lang included it in "The Lilac Fairy Book".


A king's son set out to see a battle, where every animal fought; he promised to bring back to his father the news of who would be the king of the animals that year. He arrived when the fight was almost over, but a snake and a raven still fought. He cut off the head of the snake. The raven, in gratitude, flew him to a castle where his sister lived, and the prince spent the night there. The raven then flew to another castle, where he also spent the night, but the next morning he met a handsome youth, who had been the enchanted raven. The youth gave him a bundle and warned him not to open it until he was in the place where he most wanted to be.

When he was nearing his father's house, he opened the bundle. A great castle sprang up, and an irate giant demanded to know why he had put it there. It offered to put it back if the prince gave him his first son, when he reached seven years of age. Then the prince went out, and opened the bundle near his father's lands. He went into the castle, and found a pretty maid who was willing to be his wife. They had a son, and seven years later, they tried to put off the giant with the cook's son, and the butcher's son, but finally had to yield their own.

The giant raised him. One day, he heard music and found the giant's daughter. She told him the next day the giant would ask him to marry one of her two older sisters, but she wanted him to insist on her, because she did not like the bridegroom he wanted for her.

The prince asked, but the annoyed giant demanded that he clean out the byre, or he would not get his youngest but be killed. He started to clean. The daughter came by at noon, and the prince fell asleep, but the byre were clean when he woke. The giant knew he did not clean it, but set him to thatch it with birds' down. The prince tried to hunt the birds. At noon, the daughter put him to sleep again, and the roofs were thatched with feathers when he woke. The giant knew he had not done it, and set him to fetch down a bird's nest. He tried to climb it and got no more than half way. The daughter built him a ladder of her fingers, and when he got it down, she left her little finger in the tree.

She told him that the giant would ask him to pick her out from her sisters, and the only mark would be that she was missing her finger. The wedding was held and celebrated, and the prince picked out his bride from her sisters. The giant told them to go to rest. The daughter told her husband that they had to flee at once, and they took a gray filly. She left behind slices of apples that answered the giant. Only when the last one had spoken did he realize that they had fled. He gave chase. When the giant nearly caught them, the daughter had the prince take a twig from the filly's ear and throw it behind them: it became a forest. The giant got through it, and they threw a pebble that became a mountain. The giant got through it, and they threw a flask of water that became a wave and drowned him.

The daughter forbade him to let anyone or thing in his father's house kiss him, or he would forget her, but a greyhound leaped up to kiss him, and he forgot the daughter. She stayed in a tree by a well. A shoemaker's wife and daughter, going to fetch water, both thought her shadow was theirs, and thought themselves too beautiful to fetch water. The shoemaker went himself, saw her, and persuaded her to come down.

When she stayed his house, some young men tried to woo her, but she made them stick to the latch so they could not approach her. The shoemaker was making shoes for the king's son, who was to marry, and the daughter persuaded him to take her. She conjured up a silver and a gold pigeon, and grains. The silver pigeon ate them, and the golden pigeon taxed him with what the giant's daughter had done for the prince. At that the prince knew her, and married her a second time.

ee also

*The Nixie of the Mill-Pond
*The Grateful Prince
*Nix Nought Nothing
*King Kojata
*The White Dove
*The Girl Without Hands

*The Master Maid

External links

* [ "The Battle of the Birds"]
* [ "The Battle of the Birds"] , from Joseph Jacobs

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • War of the Birds — is a danish animated movie directed by Jannik Hastrup in 1991, about two orphan birds, Oliver and Olivia, who fight against an evil vulture with the help of two mice.Characters*Oliver, a young red male sparrow. He lost his biological parents, who …   Wikipedia

  • The Acharnians — The tipsy god: sculpture by Michelangelo. The Dramatis Personae in ancient comedy depends on interpretation of textual evidence.[1] This list is based on Alan Sommerstein s translation.[2] …   Wikipedia

  • Birds of Prey (TV series) — Birds of Prey Main Title Card Format Drama Action Science fiction …   Wikipedia

  • The Ballad of the White Horse — is a poem by G K Chesterton about the idealized exploits of the Saxon King Alfred the Great, published in 1911 AD. Written in ballad form, the work is usually considered an epic poem. The poem narrates how Alfred was able to defeat the invading… …   Wikipedia

  • The Dark Is Rising Sequence — The Dark Is Rising redirects here. For the 2007 film based on the second book in the series, see The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising. Greenwitch redirects here. Not to be confused with Greenwich. For Green Witchcraft, see Contemporary Witchcraft. Dark …   Wikipedia

  • Birds International — Incorporated or BII (not to be confused with BirdLife International, an environmental non governmental organization and not affiliated with the short lived quarterly publication Birds International by Joe Forshaw) is a company working in the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Incredibles — Theatrical release poster Directed by Brad Bird Produced by …   Wikipedia

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Primary and Secondary Phases — The terms Primary Phase and Secondary Phase describe the first two radio series of The Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy . [The spelling of Hitchhiker s Guide has varied in different editions. For consistency this article always spells it this way …   Wikipedia

  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin — is a legend about the abduction of many children from the town of Hamelin ( Hameln ), Germany. Famous versions of the legend are given by the Brothers Grimm and, in English, by Robert Browning.PlotIn 1284, while the town of Hamelin was suffering… …   Wikipedia

  • The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya — (] ynopsis Time : Summer of the 6751st year of the creation of the world Place : Unspecified location beyond the Volga RiverPrelude Hymn to the Wilderness , an orchestral depiction of the scenery of forest wilderness.Act 1 Kerzhenskii Woods These …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.