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The Ants and the Birds

One upon a time there was an anthill in the middle of a forest.  The anthill was home to hundreds of ants.  The ants had built the anthill over a period of a few months.  At the centre of the anthill was the queen.  She was the centre not only of the anthill but also of the daily lives of the ants.  The queen lived in a large chamber deep in the anthill. 

The ants led a very disciplined life and contented life.  They had no complaints They were always active. They never took rest.  Every one of them had the welfare of the anthill above its own welfare.
Life went on this way for a long time until one day, tragedy struck.  The ants were going about their usual routine when there was a loud thumping noise on the ground.  The anthill shook.  The ants inside scurried to their chambers deep inside the anthill. 

A few minutes later, the anthill was torn open and a gigantic creature with a long tongue peered into the nest.  It was an anteater.  The anteater had a long sticky tongue which it inserted into the anthill.   The tongue slathered across the anthill.  Soon, dozens of ants were stuck to the tongue.  The anteater then drew its tongue into its mouth and swallowed the ants.  It then sent its tongue back into the next and drew even more ants. In about five minutes, hundreds of ants were gone.  The anteater, after having its fill for the day, left the place.  A pall of gloom descended on the anthill.  The ants were stricken with grief over the sudden loss of so many of their fellow ants.  They queen, the mother of the anthill, could not be consoled. 

It took nearly a week for the ant colony to recover.  The queen was determined not to let such a tragedy befall the anthill again.  She had an idea.  The anthill was located below a tree.  Some birds lived in the branches of the tree above the anthill.  She took a few of the other ants and made the arduous climb up the tree.  Soon, the queen and retinue reached the branches. The queen had never been outside the anthill for a long time.  She met a few of the birds and told them of the tragedy.  The birds were kind creatures.  They consoled her and shared her grief.  She asked them for their help in protecting her colony from another attack.  The birds agreed. 

A few weeks later, the anteater returned just as the queen ant had feared.  It approached the colony again.  But the birds were watching this.  As soon as the anteater came closer, the birds flew low and pecked it with their beaks.  But the anteater had thick scales covering its body.  The birds summoned their friends from neighbouring trees who also attacked it with their beaks.  A few of the birds picked up small stones, flew high and dropped it on the anteater.  The anteater gave up under the ferocity of the attack by the determined birds.  He never came back again.  The ants were relieved.  The ant queen thanked the birds. 

Life returned to normal in the forest.  A few weeks later, a snake slithered past the tree.  He noticed a small burrow made a rabbit a few months back.  The burrow was now deserted.  He quickly moved into it, happy at having found a comfortable home.  That is when the troubles began for the birds.  A few days later, a few birds returning to their nests discovered that their eggs were missing.  They knew someone was stealing their eggs.  Then, a couple of days later, one of the bird noticed the snake stealthily climbing the tree.  It told the other birds.  The birds were seized with panic.  In a few days, the eggs would be hatching.  They did not know what to do.

Then, one of the birds had an idea.  He suggested that they talk to the ant queen for help.  The birds flew down to the anthill and told the queen about their problem.  The queen remembered how the birds had saved her and her brood from the anteater.  She was only eager to return the favour. 
The next day, she ordered her subjects to attack the snake in its burrow.  The ants swarmed the burrow in their hundreds.  Each one of them had a painful sting.  The snake was overwhelmed by the onslaught.  It was stung severely.  It quickly crawled away, lucky to have escaped with its life.  The birds and the ants protected each other and lived in peace for many years.
Children, this story teaches us how friends can support each other in trouble.  We need to be friendly and helpful to others.  Then, others will help us when we are faced with danger. 

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