How the Birds Got Their Songs by Travis Zimmerman

How the Birds Got Their Songs

Illustrated by Sam Zimmerman
  • Hardcover
  • Minnesota Historical Society Press (2024)
  • SKU: 9781681342856
Regular price $17.95
Regular price Sale price $17.95

The Great Spirit challenges all the birds to a contest, and the gift of birdsong is born! This traditional story, told in both English and Ojibwe, explains bird behavior and where humans should go to hear the prettiest of birdsongs.

When Mother Earth was very young and the Great Spirit had created all the beings, he noticed how quiet everything was. As he walked about the earth, listening to the sounds of the animals and the wind and the waters, some birds flying by caught his eye. He knew immediately what he needed to do. The Great Spirit held a contest so that each bird could earn the song that was just right for its species. He called together all the birds, from the smallest sparrow to the largest hawk, and told them the plan. Each would fly as high in the sky as it could, and when it returned to Mother Earth it would receive its song. Eagle was certain his strong wings would help him fly highest of all and earn the prettiest song. But he did not know that, while the Great Spirit was talking, the tiny hermit thrush had snuggled into eagle's feathers to take a nap. All the birds flew and flew, higher and higher, each descending when it was time to return--and each receiving its own special song. But which bird flew the highest? Which one received the prettiest song?

This treasured story, handed down through author Travis Zimmerman's family, features traditional knowledge from the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Grand Portage descendant Sam Zimmerman's vibrant illustrations showcase his stylized artistry and deep appreciation for feathered creatures. Marcus Ammesmaki's retelling in Ojibwemowin brings the story full circle, encouraging language learners to explore this age-old depiction of our natural world--and inviting all readers to cherish the gift of birdsong.

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