The Red Bluejay

Welcome to Story Quest, a weekly podcast where we bring your stories to life!

In this episode we bring Teddy’s story – The Red Bluejay- to life.

If you have a story idea, you could be like Teddy and have it turned into a Story Quest. All you have to do is send us your story idea here. We know you have the best imaginations and together we can create the most brilliant stories!

That’s just what Teddy did. You can watch the story they suggested come to life below, plus they tell us all about the inspiration behind the story at the end.

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Read along to The Red Bluejay here!

You can read along to the story while you listen. Just follow the text below. Don’t worry if you find a word tricky – you can pause the video whenever to give yourself more time

The Red Bluejay

“Have you ever seen such a thing?  He’s red!  Red I tell you!”

This was the chorus around the forest one spring morning.  We will find out more about what that was all about in a bit but first of all a bit about birds, and their legends and gods.

What?  You didn’t know that birds have legends and gods?  Well they do.  The main god of the birds was known as Buzby and whilst some birds (Owls mainly, and some ducks) didn’t believe in him, OTHERS like Bluejays talked about him all the time, and brought worms and nuts to shrines and raised up their songs in praise.  There were a few other minor gods of the birds such as Trill and Featherfew but they don’t come up in this story so we can ignore them.

And legends – wow, well ALL of the birds loved legends and fables, they were passed down from the older birds to the tiniest chicks. One legend was all about the arrival of the Firebird – a mythical bluejay who would appear at times of trouble and who would save the animals of the wood when they were in peril.  Of course, like most legends, it was treated a bit like a fairy story and truth be told, no one expected it to actually be true.  Well, not until the arrival of a certain small bluejay.  So let’s meet him.

Dasha the bluejay had been sitting on her eggs for a long time but as the sun rose, a trembling and a tapping began and the eggs began to hatch.

The first egg hatched. One bluejay.  The second egg hatched. two bluejays.  Then the third egg hatched.  Three … What on earth ?  Dasha blinked and stared at the tiny little chick still damp and blinky- the third bluejay was RED!  A Red Bluejay?”

“Can we even call him a BLUE jay if he’s, well RED?” said Dasha to her mate, who was called Doshi.  

“I suppose he’s just a Red Bluejay!  He must be very special indeed!  There’s never been anything like it!”

The news began to spread – causing a flutter of excitement through the wood.

“A RED Bluejay?  Have you ever seen such a thing? – Oh wow! He must be the FIREBIRD! From the ancient LEGEND!”

“Oh yes!  The Firebird to save us all!  The Legend has come true!”

So the Red Bluejay (who was named Russet) quickly became quite a celebrity even though he was tiny and hadn’t worked out how to use his wings or even perch on a branch.

The nest became crowded with passing birds, all popping in to gawp at the new arrival, and whisper about how strange and exciting it all was. SOME birds even whispered that he probably had magical powers.  Russet was unaware of all this fuss – like I said he was barely able to balance on the perch, so small and spindly were his little legs.  

But as he grew older it was IMPOSSIBLE to avoid the attention he was getting.  Not least because well…all the birds seemed to think he had the answer to EVERYTHING.

One spring there was a a bit of a worm shortage.

“Where will we find enough worms to eat?”

“I haven’t got a clue” he said.  “Maybe switch to beetles and bugs instead?”

“Oh thank you!  How clever you are!” they trilled.

Then during a slow summer evening he was disturbed by more flapping.

“Russet!   Russettt!!!  There’s a hawk circling the woods!  Russet!  What shall we do!”

Russett tried hard to hide in a hole in the trunk of a tree.

“Russetttttt!!!!” squawked the rattled robin who’d puffed himself up so much he looked like a fluffy little boiled egg.

Russet closed his eyes and hoped that it made him invisible.  It did not.  The robin hopped into the hole and pecked at his feet.

“What shall we do!?”

Russet sighed and shrugged his feathery shoulders.  “How on earth should I know?  I don’t know.  Hide maybe?”

“Hide!  Of course!  You really are the wisest bird in the woods”

It went on and on – these were just the big things.  Even on a perfectly quiet day he was constantly being followed or peered at by the adoring crowds of bluejays.  I mean sometimes it was nice, like when they laid juicy worms at his feet but with every month he became more and more bothered.  He’d tried to get the others to see sense.

“I’m really just like you, you know!”

The birds laughed – “Ha ha!!  You are SO humble!”

When he took of in flight a trail of birds would flap behind him.  When he hopped on the forest floor a congo line of birds would appear in his wake – keen to hang on his every word or to watch what he was doing.

One day it all got too much and waking early he flew away, under the cover of the last of the night.  He didn’t know where he was going but he did know that he needed to escape.

But as the sun began to rise on the day, looking back to his home he saw something sinister/

Thick black smoke was rising from the forest he had just left. A fire had broken out, and the other birds were trapped.  He swooped back towards the nest – he had to help – but how?

When he arrived, he saw that the other birds were in a panic, unable to escape the flames which reached incredibly high into the sky. In a moment he knew what to do. He flew up high, and with all his strength, he beat his small wings, and something incredible happened!  Even though he was small the gusts of wind from his flapping became bigger and gustier and bigger and BIGGER – until they were a whirling hurricane! – The birds were blown far into the sky away from the flames and the fire was finally extinguished.  He’d saved the forest!  But how?  

As the hurricane subsided into a breeze Russet fluttered down to the scorched earth.

Russet didn’t know what to think – he didn’t know he HAD such powers – the legend must be true – he WAS the fabled firebird, brought to save the forest after all!  The birds returned to cheer and cheep and carried him on their shoulders.  And even though Russet couldn’t explain what had happened – things were about to change for the better.  The birds had learned an important lesson and agreed never to bother him with the silly stuff ever again.

“Thank goodness you came back!” they trilled.  “We never meant to scare you away – we need you here!”  And from then on Russet was never hassled, and lived a long and happy life without being followed and questioned and peered at all the time.  

And Russe had  learned an important lesson too. Sometimes, the things we try to run away from end up being the very things that make us special. And being special doesn’t have to mean we’re burdened with responsibilities. Sometimes, it means we have the power to help those around us, and that’s a gift worth cherishing.

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