Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Elizabeth Brightwen > Text of Young Cuckoo

An essay by Elizabeth Brightwen

A Young Cuckoo

Title:     A Young Cuckoo
Author: Elizabeth Brightwen [More Titles by Brightwen]

Looking out of my window before six o'clock one bright morning in early summer, I chanced to see a large bird sitting quietly on the gravel walk. Its feathers were ruffled as if it felt cold and miserable, and its drooping head told a tale of unhappiness from some cause or other. Whilst I was watching it, a little bird darted with all its force against the larger one, and made it roll over on the path; it slowly rose up again, but in another minute a bird from the other side flew against it and again rolled it over. Such conduct could not be tolerated, so, dressing quickly, I went out, and picking up the strange bird I found it was a young cuckoo nearly starved to death, having, as I supposed, lost its foster-parents. The bird was in beautiful plumage, except down the front of its throat, where the repeated attacks of the small birds in showing their usual enmity towards the cuckoo, had stripped off the feathers. The poor bird was only skin and bone, nearly dying from lack of food and persecution, and made no resistance when I brought him in to see if I could act the part of foster-mother. Finely-mixed raw meat and brown bread seemed to me the best substitute for his insect diet--but he _was_ an awkward baby to feed--though sinking for want of nourishment he would not open his great beak, and every half-hour he had to be fed sorely against his will with many flapping of his wings and other protests of his bird nature. He would not stay quiet in any sort of cage, but when allowed to perch on the rim of a large basket quite free, he remained happily enough by the hour together. After a few days he grew into a vigorous, active bird, flying round the room, and too wild to be retained with safety He was therefore let loose, and soon flew quite out of sight. I should hope he was quite able to support himself by his own exertions. I must say he showed no gratitude for my benevolent succour in his time of need.

[The end]
Elizabeth Brightwen's essay: Young Cuckoo