Fractured Tales Contest: Blue-Bill

Susanna Hill is having a March-Madness writing contest. The rules: Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words, that is a fractured fairy tale. Mine is not a fracturing of the gruesome French Bluebeard tale (read it HERE), though I alluded to it in my 383-word reconstruction of the English fairy tale, The Magpie’s Nest (read it HERE) , for an American audience. Hope you enjoy it!


The other birds were suspicious when Black-billed Magpie opened a nest-building school.

“He has skills,” remarked Chickadee.

“And he’s clever,” said Wren

“Look at all his shiny treasures too,” said Hummingbird.

“I wouldn’t trust that ‘Blue-bill’ with a ten inch twig! Bet he lines his basement with little bird bones!” said Robin, and flew off. But the rest were in awe and stayed.

“Before building you must be in good physical shape,” said Magpie. He explained everything he knew about nutrition, fresh air and exercise. But Wren was easily bored, and the lessons hadn’t even started yet. So Wren left and made a nest in an old shoe.

“Location, location, location,” said Magpie. “First you need a good spot. Without one, it doesn’t matter how well you build.”

“But how do you know? How can you be sure? Do you have a checklist? Is spring best for building? What time of day?” Chickadee went on and on, with more and more questions.

“Well, I am very wise. I just…know,” said Magpie. But answers like that were not sufficient for Chickadee. He flew off too.

“Next, you will need materials,” said Magpie. “Twigs, leaves and sticks of the best quality.”

“I can’t carry thick twigs like you. I’m not strong enough. I’m just a little bird,” said the Hummingbird.

Magpie saw his chance. “Then allow me to offer my home. We can nest very snuggly together.”

“I’m not so sure that would be wise. I have heard stories,” said the Hummingbird.

“That’s just what they are – stories.” Sensing Hummingbird’s lack of trust, Magpie made another offer. “My home would be yours and my treasures too. Anything your heart desires.”

“Really? Then I’ll have that red gem to wear around my neck. Bring it down and help me put it on, would you?” asked Hummingbird.

Magpie seized his chance. But while Hummingbird kept him busy, another bird proved to be the wiser and moved into Magpie’s excellent nest while he was out! The Great-Horned Owl was not skilled, but fierce!

But Black-billed Magpie was outsmarted twice that day. While he was busy constructing a new nest, Hummingbird got away – far away!

And that, my friends, is why the Ruby-throated Hummingbird lives in the east and the Black-billed Magpie lives in the west.

Idea note_20140322_154108_03

rubythroated hummingbirdPlease pop over and read the other entries – HERE

64 thoughts on “Fractured Tales Contest: Blue-Bill

  1. I love, and that’s why….., stories! This is my favorite line, ““Location, location, location,” said Magpie.” Great fun, though of course I would have loved to see you illustrate all the birds, too! I hope you enter the illustrators competition!


  2. That tale is lots of fun! Those little bird characters were just like the ones that come to my yard! Wrens nesting in shoes and chickadees chattering about nothing. I was waiting for your illustrations to go with!! Good job!


  3. Just discovered your blog via Seven Acre Sky, Damon Dean’s blog, who is a fellow competitor in the March Madness Poetry Competition over at Can I just absolutely gush over your illustrations!!!! They are amazing! I’m in love with your artwork! LOVE IT!!!! Oh, and I am SO glad the hummingbird got away. They are my favorite animal.


  4. Not sure if it would appeal to you or not, but let me know if you would ever like to collaborate on a blog post. I think it would be awesome if you wanted to do an illustration for a poem, or I could do a poem to match an illustration.


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