Once upon a time, a cruel hornbill was the King of Birds. He was very hot-tempered and would often order other birds to be killed even for small mistakes.
The birds were very afraid of the tyrannical hornbill. Troubled by his cruelty, they wanted to appoint a new king.
One day, all the birds gathered on a tree and held a secret meeting.
They all discussed and agreed to choose a new king. But the question was who would be the new king?
Many birds were considered, and finally everyone decided that the bulbul would be their new king.
The parrot said, “The bulbul will make a good king because he is just and kind.”
So it was decided that the bulbul would be the King of Birds.
The sparrow said, “The question now is who will tell the hornbill that he is not our king any more?”
The owl said, “I have a plan, but I need the woodpecker’s help to carry out that plan.”
The woodpecker agreed to help the owl in his plan to dethrone the hornbill. He said, “I’ll surely help you in your plan.”
The owl went to the hornbill and said, “All the birds are planning to revolt against you. You must prove your strength in front of all the birds to retain your kingship.”
“Nobody amongst the birds is more powerful than me. I will prove my prowess and teach them a lesson,” said the conceited hornbill.
But after a moment’s thought, he said, “But how will I prove my prowess?”
The owl said, “You just have to break a thick branch of a tree to prove how strong you are. If you can’t, then whoever breaks the branch will become the king.”
The hornbill was very sure that he was strong enough to accomplish this task, so he agreed.
Next day, all the birds gathered on a tree to see the hornbill prove his strength.
The hornbill tried to break the branch with his strong bill, but he couldn’t.
He tried hard by hitting the branch again and again, but the branch just did not break.
He gave up and said, “This branch is too strong. I cannot break it.”
The owl then said, “There is another similar branch lying here. Now the bulbul will try to break it. If he breaks it, he will be our king.”
The bulbul flew up, then down, then again up and then down. Then he went round and round, and finally he hit the thick branch. The branch broke at once.
The hornbill, ashamed at his failure to do what a small bird could easily do, flew away, never to return.
The bulbul was then crowned as the King of Birds.
Actually before the competition, the owl had made the woodpecker peck at the branch from inside, till the point where a single hit would break it.
So when the bulbul came, the branch was hollow from inside and needed just a single hit.
Through clever planning and mutual help, the birds were able to free themselves from the rule of the cruel hornbill.
The birds now lived peacefully and happily under the benign and just rule of the bulbul.