Free as a bird, by Marianne Hartigan

A garden filled with busy birds.

Starlings swoop, chattering madly.

 One starling

Birds of a feather…

Other starlings

Flock together! Chatter, chatter…

Repeat frequently till snowstorm.

 A blackbird sings loudly.

Young blackbird:

What are you singing?

Older blackbird

I’m top blackbird, fit and strong! And I’m looking for love…

Young blackbird

I’m top blackbird, fit and strong! And I’m looking for love!

Older blackbird crossly chases younger away. Female blackbird notices younger one.

Young blackbird

I’m top blackbird! And I’m looking for love!

Older blackbird chases younger.

 Robin

I’m top Robin! And I’m looking for love…?
Robin repeats frequently till snowstorm, but there is no female to respond…

Mistle thrush

Big storm coming.

Birds stop and stare

 Second mistle thrush

Ve come all this way. No mistletoe. No vorms.  No fruit…

Mistle thrush

Snow coming… Cold. No food. Only berries on my tree.  I haf flown long way to find my tree. Chases other birds away.

 Birds chatter worriedly. Fly. Rest. Fly.

Young blackbird

Snow? Will our feet freeze? Will we die of cold?

Female blackbird

Bird feet don’t freeze, they’re scaly, tough. Keep dry as you can. Fluff out your feathers. Stick together. Stay safe.

Young blackbird heartened

I’m top blackbird! And I’m looking for love!

 Older blackbird chases away younger. Female pecks food. Blackbird chases female away from food. Chases starlings away from food repeatedly. Eats guardedly.

Does more chasing than eating.  Mistle thrush guards tree. Sky darkens. Birds huddle. Starlings chatter. Wind rises.

Robin

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
and what will poor robin do then poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn, to keep himself warm.
And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

 Snow falls. Birds quieten. Big snowstorm brews. Snow covers trees, ground.

Birds huddle, cowering, cold.

 One starling miserably

Birds of a feather…

Other starlings miserably

Flock together.

Sky darkens further

Sun rises, all is white, cold.

 One starling miserably

Birds of a feather…

Other starlings miserably

Flock together.

Older Blackbird weakly

I am top blackbird…

Young blackbird pokes in snow

No food! Will we die? Need food to sing! Need food to mate, to build nest, to feed chicks!

Older blackbird chases younger away from absent food

 Female blackbird

Wait…

Young blackbird

Wait? For what? We’ll freeze!

Female blackbird

Wait…   This is a special food place.

Younger blackbird, with starlings, flies to tree.

Mistle thrush

My tree! My berries! Chases birds.

Door opens, food’s placed on bird-table. Door closes. Birds flock to food, fight, scattering food. Young blackbird and female blackbird, eat warily, are re-energised.

Female blackbird

See?

Young blackbird

I’m top blackbird! And I’m looking for love!

Female blackbird responds.

 Young blackbird

I’m top blackbird! And I’m looking for love!

Young blackbird chases Older blackbird.

One starling

Birds of a feather…

Other starlings discordantly

Flock together! Chatter, chatter…

Robin

I’m top Robin! And I’m looking for love…

 Robin looks happily at little female robin rustling in bushes.

 Ends


Marianne Hartigan, a former journalist, is now a creative writer and has written for stage, radio and print.