The Kingfisher and the Phoebe

A proud mother phoebe who had raised two broods of fledglings in the fair weather was at first dismayed and then delighted when one of the males of the second brood refused to leave the nest and fly away like the others. “I have raised a remarkable phoebe unlike any other phoebe,” the mother bird decided. “He will become a great singer, greater than the nightingale.”

She brought in a nightingale to teach her son to sing, and then a catbird, and then a mockingbird, but all the young phoebe could learn to sing was “Phoebe, Phoebe.” And so the mother bird sent for Dr. Kingfisher, a bird psychologist, who examined the young phoebe carefully. “This phoebe is a phoebe like any other phoebe,” he told the mother. “And all he will ever sing is ‘Phoebe, Phoebe.'”

But the ambitious mother did not believe Dr. Kingfisher’s prognosis. “Maybe he won’t be a great singer, but he will be a great something,” she insisted. “He will take the place of the eagle on the dollar, or the canary in the gilded cage, or the cuckoo in the cuckoo clock. You just wait.”

“I’ll wait,” said Dr. Kingfisher, and he waited. But nothing happened. The phoebe went on being a phoebe and singing “Phoebe, Phoebe” like any other phoebe, and that was all.

MORAL: You can’t make anything out of cookie dough except cookies.

The Kingfisher and the Phoebe

James Thurber

James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories published mainly in The New Yorker magazine, such as "The Catbird Seat", and collected in his numerous books. He was one of the most popular humorists of his time, as he celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

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