Why The Vulture is Bald

A story from Burma


The vulture was originally a humble old bird, and rather stupid. His plumage was not exceptionally beautiful, but not objectionable. One day, he noticed that his feathers were falling off. He consulted other birds, who told him that he was merely molting, and new feathers would grow later. But the vulture was pessimistic, and he soon became thin and sickly with worry about his plumage. Watching the vulture change as he did, the other birds took pity on him.  Each gave him a feather to stick on his body. When all the birds had given him their feathers, the vulture became a beautiful bird with plumage of all colors.

The vulture now became conceited. He strutted about in his "borrowed" feathers, and declared that he was the most beautiful of all the birds. He became more and more proud until he asked the birds to recognize him as their king. At this insolence, the birds pecked off, the feathers that they had given the vulture, and they also took the vulture's own feathers. When the birds had finished with him, the vulture looked old and ugly and bald. That is why even to the present day, the vulture is a sour and ugly old bird.