A magician once passed through a forest where many brown birds flew and filled the air with sweet songs. For a long time, he sat and listened and was amused by their beautiful songs, but in the end he became very jealous, because he himself could not sing.
At last, he felt that he must find a way of getting the voices of these singing birds, so he called them together, and said: “I am sad because the gods have given you such ugly brown feathers. How happy you would be if you were brilliantly coloured with red, blue, orange and green!”
The birds agreed that it was a great pity to be so ugly. The magician then said that by means of his magic, he could give them new beautiful feathers in exchange for their sweet voices, which were in fact of little use to them, since no body came into the forest to see them.
The birds thought over his words, and wanted very much the beauty the magician promised them. He put them together in a big calabash. He then turned the dull brown feathers to red, green, and they were both very pleased.
The Magician hurried away, and as soon as he came to a desert place, he opened the calabash and swallowed what was inside.
From that day, he had a very beautiful sweet voice, and people came from near and far to listen to his songs. The birds also were satisfied with their bright feathers. And this is why most birds are quite unable to sing.