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The Chickadee and the Rattlesnake - A Fable

In a forest, far from civilization as we know it, likely near Drumheller, Alberta, I observed a strange pair amongst a group of trees. It was a chickadee and a rattlesnake conversing normally. Naturally, you might assume that I had lost my mind, but I tell you it’s true. What follows is an account of what I observed in the narrative of the characters involved.

A Chickadee was lounging about in the forest when he happened to notice a rattlesnake nearby, and being a jovial type of bird he exclaimed “Hey there, snake, what are you up to? You’re racing around searching for food, making a shelter and getting prepared for the winter. Why don’t you just get your Mom to do that? I never get my own food, my Mom just brings it to me and I live in her nest rent-free and play Call of Duty all day. We’re going to fly south for a vacation in the winter, all-inclusive. I won’t have to do anything at all, I’m sure, for the rest of my life. It’s awesome!” The rattlesnake was taken aback by the nerve of the chickadee to exclaim such a narrative to a stranger, but she considered herself to be fairly tolerant. So she answered with a narrative of her own. “In my species, the mother leaves us right after birth.” She stated matter-of-factly. “I have never met my mother but I believe she must trust me to be self-sufficient, and I am. I want to be well prepared for the winter months in which I will stay here and hibernate with my stockpile of food I have gathered for myself along with my skills that I have acquired from being out in the real world. Say, you look like you are an adult, you must be at least 40 in bird years. Don’t you think it is time to leave the nest?”

Just then the Chickadee’s mom appeared. She seemed to be a pleasant type, if not a little bit passive aggressive. She saw her son conversing with a rattlesnake, but thought nothing of it, because Chickadees are not that well known for their intelligence. “There you are, dear!” She said. “There’s dinner waiting in the nest. It’s all of your favourites: pop and chips and chocolate bars, and a Big Mac for dessert. I organized all of your games for you because they were laying all over the floor, but don’t worry, I organized them according to genre.” Her son seemed annoyed by this information and started whining “Moooommmmm! I told you to never touch my games! I like them being all over the floor!” The Chickadees’s mom was non-plussed “Now, now dear!” She said in a voice that was more than a little patronizing, “Say good-bye to your friend, it’s time for your bath and I think your friend may be a predator. Come home before she decides to eat us.”

And so it was that the Chickadee and his Mom went back to their nest of luxury, and the snake continued to prepare for winter and eat some of the food she had caught for herself. She worked over the course of a week and became completely ready for winter. She had done a lot of work and could now relax and enjoy the fruits of her labours. I continued to observe and was astonished by what transpired next……

The Chickadee came bursting through the woods in such a state “Snake! Snake! Where are you? Oh man, am I ever in a lot of trouble!”, he anxiously yelled. “What are you bellering about? I’m right here.” The snake said crossly. “Winter is upon us, I want to go into hibernation now, go back to your luxurious nest, I’m sure your Mom is waiting for you.” She said, clearly annoyed by the bird. But the Chickadee kept going on “Oh no, you see, that’s the problem!” He said. “My Mom is gone! Someone working for the zoo caught her and now she’s in a cage being gawked at by humans. Now what am I going to do? Mom pays the electricity bill and now that she is gone the electricity will be cut off, I won’t be able to play Call of Duty! My life is over!”

The snake pondered for a while, this bird is sure annoying she thought.

Then she came upon the perfect solution to the problem……because she is a snake. “Yes, you are right you silly bird, your life is over.” She hissed “You are a lazy, dependant, spoiled brat. And your Mom was right. I AM a predator and I could always use more for my stockpile of groceries.” After saying this, the Rattlesnake killed the chickadee and added her to her stores and was happy to be ready for the coming months. Just then the Chickadee’s mom approached. She complained loudly “Where is that son of mine? Those zoo idiots couldn’t keep me caged, I escaped by pretending to be sweet and then I pecked their eyes. Where’s that lazy bum, he’s 42 years old and mooching off of me all this time. I just wish he would go away, or die or something.” The rattlesnake started laughing. “Your wish has been granted, for I have killed her. It seems you are both reprehensible characters, so I am going to add you to my stores as well. I will be well fed this winter. You should never trust a snake anyway, silly bird!” With that, she killed the bird with just one strike, because she considered herself merciful.

After the Rattlesnake killed and stored the bird, she slithered off into her hibernation home, satisfied that she would survive the winter. After I had written and published this story, the police went and arrested the Rattlesnake and she was charged with murder. The moral of this story is up to you to decide, whether the Chickadees were right, or the snake. Possibly they were all right or possibly they were wrong, In any case the snake was right about one thing: never trust a snake!

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