A LONG time ago all the birds met together to talk about building nests.
"Every Indian has a wigwam," said the robin, "and every bird needs a home."
"Indians have no feathers," said the owl, "and so they are cold without wigwams. We have feathers."
"I keep warm by flying swiftly," said the swallow.
"And I keep warm by fluttering my wings," said the humming-bird.
"By and by we shall have our little ones," said the robin. "They will have no feathers on their wings, so they cannot fly or flutter; and they will be cold. How shall we keep them warm if we have no nests?"
Then all the birds said, "We will build nests so that our little ones will be warm."
The birds went to work. One brought twigs, one brought moss, and one brought leaves. They sang together merrily, for they thought of the little ones that would some time come to live in the warm nests.
Now the magpie was lazy, and she sat still and watched the others at their work.
"Come and build your nest in the reeds and rushes," cried one bird, but the magpie said "No."
"My nest is on the branch of a tree," called another, "and it rocks like a child's cradle. Come and build beside it," but the magpie said "No."
Before long all the birds but the magpie had their nests built. The magpie cried, "I do not know how to build a nest. Will you not help me?"
The other birds were sorry for her and answered, "We will teach you." The blackbird said, "Put the twigs on this bough;" the robin said, "Put the leaves between the twigs;" and the humming-bird said, "Put this soft green moss over it all."
"I do not know how," cried the magpie.
"We are teaching you," said the other birds. But the magpie was lazy, and she thought, "If I do not learn, they will build a nest for me."
The other birds talked together. "She does not wish to learn," they said, "and we will not help her any longer." So they went away from her.
Then the magpie was sorry. "Come back," she called, "and I will learn." But by this time the other birds had eggs in their nests, and they were busy taking care of them, and had no time to teach the lazy magpie. This is why the magpie's nest is not well built.