Nobody liked the crow.
“You have no beautiful colors,” said the toucan.
“People set nectar in their gardens, just so I will visit,” said the hummingbird.
“I glide on the wind, not like your foolish flapping,” said the hawk.
“You can’t even sing,” sniffed the lark.
“Caw,” said the crow.
But humans were the worst, he thought. Fly overhead, and they say, “Bad luck!” Die by the road, and they say, “That’s good!” Land on a house, and they say, “Death is coming!” To someone they hate, they say, “Go to the crows.”
One day, when he was tired of eating worms, the crow tried to snatch some corn from a field, but the farmer shouted and threw a rock at him.
The crow flew until his wings were tired and took refuge in a tree next to a very tall gray wall. As he glared at a dim window in the wall, a light suddenly shone from behind it. Blue, red, green and gold glowed in the glass, and the crow made out a figure in it. A man in a white robe. He was holding a lamb.
Then voices flowed out too, human voices, not angry like the farmer, but full of happiness and love. The crow had never heard such a thing before, and his thick beak dropped open. From his throat came another sound he had never heard before, a racketing, clacketing, chirruping mix of clicks and clacks and rumbles.
He didn’t even know how long it went on before he heard a chuckling from below. He jumped a little when he saw a man standing under the tree. “You sing like me,” said the man. He was dressed all in black, but had a white band around his neck. Like a thrush, thought the crow. Or a kingfisher.
“Here, share something else with me,” said the man. He held up his hand and reached as high as he could toward the crow. The hand didn’t hold the rock that the crow expected. It held a piece of bread.
The crow hopped to a lower branch and cautiously stretched his neck toward the bread. As he plucked it from the man’s hand, the man cried, “Oh! Look at your new colors.”
The crow wobbled on the thin branch as he swallowed the bread and turned his head from side to side, trying to see what the man meant. Finally, he spread his wings and saw. Every glowing color from the window had spread across his wings, blue, red, green and gold.
The man began to sing, very badly for a human. And the crow began to sing, very well for a crow.