One day, a long, long time ago, it was very cold; winter was coming and all the birds had flown south to wait for spring. But there was one little bird who had a broken wing and could not fly. He just did not know what to do.
He looked all around to see if there was any place where he could keep warm. That’s when he saw the trees of the great forest. “Perhaps I can ask the trees if they would be willing to keep me warm through the winter.”
So hopping and fluttering with his broken wing he went to the edge of the forest. The first tree he came to was a tall silver birch. “Beautiful birch tree, will you let me live in your warm branches until the springtime comes?”
The birch tree said, “Indeed not! What a terrible thing to ask! I have to take care of my own branches through the winter. Go away.”
The little bird hopped and fluttered with his broken wing until came to the next tree. It was a great, big oak-tree. “Oh big oak tree, will you let me live in your warm branches until the springtime comes?”
The Oak tree said, “indeed not, what a terrible thing to ask! If you stay in my branches all winter you will be eating my acorns. Go away.”
So the little bird hopped and fluttered with his broken wing until he came to the willow-tree by the edge of the brook. “Oh beautiful willow tree, will you let me live in your warm branches until the springtime comes?”
The willow tree replied, “Indeed not. I never speak to strangers. Go away.”
The poor little bird did not know where to go, but he kept hopping and fluttering along with his broken wing. Presently the spruce tree saw him and said, “Little bird, where are you going?”
“I do not know. The trees will not let me live with them and my wing is broken so that I cannot fly.”
The spruce said, “You may live on one of my branches.”
But may I stay all winter?”
“Yes, of course,” replied the spruce. “I would like to have you.”
The pine tree standing next to the spruce had heard all of this and he said, “My branches are not very warm, but I can keep the wind off because I am big and strong.”
So the little bird fluttered up into the warm branch of the spruce, and the pine-tree blocked the cold wind. When the juniper tree saw what was going on it said, “You know little bird, you will need something to eat this winter and my juniper berries are very good for little birds.”
The little bird was very comfortable in his warm nest sheltered from the wind, with juniper berries to eat.
Meanwhile the three trees who couldn’t be bothered to help the little bird were talking to each other. The birch said, “I do not take care of strange birds.” The oak said, “I do not share my acorns with birds.” The willow said, “I do not speak to strangers.” And the three trees stood very tall and proud.
But that night the weather turned bitter cold and the North Wind wanted to come to the woods to play. What he like to do was puff his icy breath at all the leaves so that every leaf he touched would fall to the ground. You see the North Wind loved to see the trees bare. But before he left home he asked his father, the Frost King, “Father, may I touch every leaf and needle?”
The Frost King said, “No, my Son. The trees that were kind to the bird with the broken wing may keep their needles.” So it is today if you go into the forest you will see that the spruce, the pine, and the juniper tree are green all winter long.