The Story of the Hoopoe and the Cuckoo

The tuft of the hoopoe’s head has given rise to a tale, similar to some extent to the story of the tail of the wagtail, and yet not quite identical. Like the wagtail, which originally had no tail, the hoopoe had originally no tuft on its head. But when the lark had her wedding, she invited all the birds. Among them also the hoopoe. She did not want to come with her simple feathers, but went to the cuckoo and borrowed them from him, for he had the tuft, promising to return it to him as soon as she had come back from the wedding. The cuckoo, who was a good natured and obliging fellow, trusted the hoopoe and lent her the tuft.

She went to the wedding, and her beautiful ornament was greatly admired by all the birds. Most of all was the lark pleased with it. The hoopoe grew very elated, and thought she had better keep it. And so she did. She came home, and entirely forgot the cuckoo and her promise to return him his tuft. The cuckoo waited for a while for the hoopoe to return to him the tuft which he had lent her. But the hoopoe was nowhere to be found; she never showed herself. Seeing this, the cuckoo went to her and asked her to return the tuft.

She pretended not to know what the cuckoo was saying, and coolly replied, “I do not know what you are talking about.” Enraged at her callous conduct, the cuckoo called all the other birds together to lay his case before them, and to ask them to pass judgment on the hoopoe. When the birds came together, they appointed the lark to be the judge, but the lark had taken a fancy to the hoopoe ever since the wedding day, so, in spite of the protestations of the cuckoo, he decided that the tuft must remain with the hoopoe, as it suited her so much better. And so it has remained to this day. But since then there is no friendship between the cuckoo and the lark, who delivered a wrong judgment.

Updated: November 24, 2013 — 1:09 pm

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