The Bird of a Different Feather | Ep. 212

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Ever heard the saying, “One good turn deserves another”?

It means if someone does us a favor, then we should do a favor back.

We’re about to meet a fellow who does a friend a big favor, by getting her out of a tight spot. And in return, he gets some spots of his own!

Our story is called “The Bird of a Different Feather.” Versions of this tale come from parts of Africa.

We recorded this episode before a live audience of very enthusiastic kids and grown-ups at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland. On stage was a trio of actors whose voices you’ve heard in many Circle Round stories: Evan Casey, Kevin Corbett, and Dawn Ursula.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Nora Saks. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

Coloring Page

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes, click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

You can have fun with camouflage by making your own Camouflage Creature!

On a piece of white paper, draw the outline of a creature. It can be a real creature, like an animal, bug, fish, or bird… or it can be imaginary. Either way, use markers, crayons, or colored pencils to decorate your creature with a pattern – and include whatever colors you’d like. Then ask a grown-up to help you cut your creature out.

Next, on a new piece of white paper, draw your same pattern – being sure to cover the entire sheet. Now take your creature and position it on your background, and glue or paste it in place. Then show your camouflage creature to a family member or friend and see if they can spot it!

Want to share your Camouflage Creature with us? Send a photo of you and your critter to

Musical Spotlight: Djembe

Mali’s Bambara people say the name of the djembe (pictured here played by Eric Shimelonis) comes from the saying "Anke djé, anke bé": "everyone gather together in peace.” (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)
Mali’s Bambara people say the name of the djembe (pictured here played by Eric Shimelonis) comes from the saying "Anke djé, anke bé": "everyone gather together in peace.” (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)

The goblet-shaped drum known as the djembe is one of West Africa's best-known instruments. Historians believe it dates back 400 to 800 years. Traditionally you carve the djembe from a single piece of African hardwood, then stretch animal skin over the top as a drumhead and play it with your hands.

It’s been said the djembe contains multiple spirits: (1) the tree from which it was made, (2) the spirit of the animal whose skin created the drumhead, and (3) the spirits of the woodcutter, carver and people who assembled the drum!


NARRATOR: Have you ever seen… a guinea fowl?

The guinea fowl is a game bird – like a turkey, partridge, or pheasant. Like many other game birds, the guinea fowl has a kind of almond-shaped body. It also has a long, slim neck.

But what makes the guinea fowl stand out… in addition to its loud and some might say harsh squawk


NARRATOR: … are its feathers! 

GUINEA FOWL: It's true! My dark, glossy feathers are speckled with thousands of tiny bright white spots!

NARRATOR: That’s right, Guinea Fowl! But according to legend, you didn’t always have those spots. Remember? Your feathers used to be just dark and glossy, with nary a spot to be seen!

GUINEA FOWL: Oh yeahhhhhh! But then THAT THING happened.

NARRATOR: Yes. That thing. And in fact, I thought we would tell everyone about that thing today. Are you up for it? Or should I say… are you game?

GUINEA FOWL: Ha! I see what you did there. I’m a game bird, so game/ game… very funny. But yes! I’m game. Let’s do this.

NARRATOR: Alright!

It all began long, long ago… when Guinea Fowl made his home on the dry and dusty plains. One hot, sunny morning, he set off across the plains to have breakfast with his best friend, Cow.

Guinea Fowl and Cow always met near a tall, craggy boulder surrounded by a scrubby patch of sweet grass. Cow would graze on the grass while Guinea Fowl used his sharp little beak to peck in the dirt for beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers.

This morning, as Guinea Fowl approached the boulder, he discovered that Cow was already there, happily munching her breakfast.

But he also discovered that Cow… wasn’t alone.

GUINEA FOWL: Oh no! Look who’s hiding behind the boulder! It’s… Lion!

NARRATOR: Indeed! Fierce, ferocious Lion was crouching in the shadows, getting ready to spring out and turn Cow into his next meal!

GUINEA FOWL: Seems like Cow has no idea that Lion is even there! I must save my best friend!

NARRATOR: Thinking fast, Guinea Fowl bristled his dark feathers, stretched his wide wings, and then – half flying and half running – he made a mad dash toward the boulder…


NARRATOR: …squawking all the while.

GUINEA FOWL: Squawk! Cow! Get out of here! Squawk! It’s Lion! Squawk! He’s trying to eat you! Squawk!

NARRATOR: The moment Cow heard her best friend’s voice…

COW: Guinea Fowl!!!

NARRATOR: …she snapped to attention and trotted away.

COW: Thank you, frieeeend!

NARRATOR: Before Lion could take off after her, Guinea Fowl came charging over. With his long tail dragging and his strong wings flapping, he raced around the boulder – kicking up clouds of dry, sandy earth, and enveloping Lion in a thick, hazy mass of dust!

LION: What’s happening here? Guinea Fowl? Is that you? I heard you squawking just now!

NARRATOR: But Guinea Fowl didn’t answer. He just zipped around the boulder, then dashed off again, in search of another spot to peck for beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers.

To Lion’s relief, the dust eventually cleared.

LION: Much better!

NARRATOR: But to Lion’s dismay, he found himself… alone. No Cow, no Guinea Fowl.

LION: Ugh! That pesky, squawky Guinea Fowl has scared off my breakfast! But I won’t let him stop me next time. No way, no how!

NARRATOR: And with that, Lion skulked off, his big empty belly growling like, well…

LION: Growl!

NARRATOR: …like a lion!

LION: Growl!

NARRATOR: The next morning, Guinea Fowl woke up extra early. He was determined to get to the boulder before Cow did, and keep a lookout for Lion. But when he arrived…

…he saw that Cow had beaten him to it. And unfortunately…?


NARRATOR: … so had Lion! Once more, the mean, mighty creature was lurking in the shadows, getting ready to pounce.

So… I’ll bet you can guess what Guinea Fowl did next!

He bristled his dark feathers, stretched his wide wings, then made a beeline for the boulder…


NARRATOR: …squawking all the while.

GUINEA FOWL: Squawk! Squawk! Squawk! 

NARRATOR: Just like yesterday…

COW: Guinea Fowl!

NARRATOR: …Cow snapped to attention and trotted away.

COW: Thank you, frieeeend!

NARRATOR: And, just like yesterday, Guinea Fowl went tearing toward Lion – dragging his tail, flapping his wings, and kicking up great clouds of dust.

LION: Not again! Guinea Fowl? How dare you ruin my breakfast two days in a row????

NARRATOR: But Guinea Fowl didn’t answer. He just careened around the boulder at top speed, then scurried off.

By the time the dust had settled…

LION: What a relief!

NARRATOR: …Cow was long gone, as was Guinea Fowl.

LION: Uch! That pesky, squawky Guinea Fowl has ruined my breakfast again! But this is the last time, I tell you. The last time. Because tomorrow I’m not going to stalk his bovine friend… I am going to stalk him!

NARRATOR: What do you think? Will Lion succeed in catching Guinea Fowl?

Or will Guinea Fowl call… “foul”?

(Ha! See what I did there?)

We’ll find out what happens, after a quick break.


NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to Circle Round, live at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland! Today our story is called “The Bird of a Different Feather.”

Before the break, Guinea Fowl saved his best friend, Cow, from the hungry jaws of Lion – two days in a row.

So on the third day, Lion decided he wouldn’t try to eat Cow. He would try to eat Guinea Fowl!

Lion knew that Guinea Fowl roosted, or slept, at the top of a tree. So early the next morning, before the crack of dawn, Lion crept to a bush not far from Guinea Fowl’s tree… and huddled behind it.

LION: Ha ha! I can see Guinea Fowl’s dark, glossy feathers as he snoozes away in that tree! The moment he comes down, I will use my mighty paws and powerful legs to spring out and capture him! He won’t have any time to eat his breakfast – because he’s going to be mine!

NARRATOR: Eventually, Lion saw Guinea Fowl wake up and make his way toward the ground. The moment the bird’s feet touched the dry and dusty earth, Lion let out a roar…


NARRATOR: …then he leaped out from behind the bush, his teeth and claws bared.

LION: I’ve got you now, Guinea Fowl!

NARRATOR: Guinea Fowl gaped at Lion. The clever bird knew he didn’t have a second to lose, so he did the first thing he could think of. He bristled his dark feathers, stretched his wide wings, and then – half flying and half running – he began squawking and skittering… right in Lion’s direction!

GUINEA FOWL: Squawk! You’ve messed with the wrong bird, Lion! Squawk!

NARRATOR: Next thing Lion knew, he was being pecked all over, as Guinea Fowl lashed out with his sharp little beak!

LION: Ouch! My head! Ow! My back! Oooo! My tail!

NARRATOR: Lion wriggled and squiggled on the ground. And with every twist and turn, his powerful body sent up big, billowing clouds… of dust!

LION: Oh no! Not again!

NARRATOR: Guinea Fowl didn’t waste a minute. Quick as a wink, he took off across the plains. He didn’t stop running until he reached the bushwillow shrub where Cow made her home.

COW: Guinea Fowl! What are you doing here? Aren’t we meeting for breakfast?

NARRATOR: Guinea Fowl paused to catch his breath.

GUINEA FOWL: No, we’re not meeting for breakfast. Because Lion just tried making me his breakfast!

COW: Oh you poor thing! Now you know how I feel! Were you all alone when he pounced?

GUINEA FOWL: I was! He was lying in wait right beneath my tree! I fought back with every ounce of strength I had, and let me tell ya: next time that big brute sees me, he will not be happy!

NARRATOR: Cow was quiet for a moment. Then she flashed her feathered friend a smile.

COW: Actually… next time ‘that big brute sees you,’ I think I know a way for him not to see you at all!

GUINEA FOWL: What? Explain what you mean!

NARRATOR: But Cow did not explain. Instead, she took a quick glance around, then brought over a dried, hollowed-out calabash, or gourd.

COW: Okay, Guinea Fowl. Twice now you’ve saved my life, so it’s my turn to save yours! Now close your eyes… and don’t move!

NARRATOR: Guinea fowl’s heart was racing, but he closed his eyes and did his best to stand still.

GUINEA FOWL: So, um, Cow? What exactly is it that you –

COW: Shhh! I said “don’t move,” Guinea Fowl! And that includes your beak!


NARRATOR: Guinea Fowl stood stock still. Then all at once, he felt something sprinkling and spattering his feathers!

GUINEA FOWL: Um, is it the rainy season already? Are there raindrops falling from the –

COW: What did I say about not moving?


NARRATOR: Guinea Fowl waited as more droplets spattered his feathers.

COW: Okaaay… we’re almost there… just a few more… aaaaaaand DONE! You can open your eyes now! And take a look at yourself!

NARRATOR: Guinea Fowl opened his eyes and craned his neck to look at his almond-shaped body. And what should he see speckled all over his dark, glossy feathers… but thousands of tiny bright-white spots! 

GUINEA FOWL: Holy cow, Cow! Where did these spots come from?

NARRATOR: Cow grinned and nodded toward the hollowed-out calabash. Guinea Fowl noticed it was filled with milk.

GUINEA FOWL: Wait… You used your milk to give me spots? But why???

COW: Let’s just say that next time you and Lion cross paths, it will all be clear. 

NARRATOR: A few days later, once Lion was done nursing his pecking wounds, he decided he would try catching Guinea Fowl again.

Early in the morning, before the crack of dawn, he hid himself in the bush near Guinea Fowl’s tree. But as he fixed his bright golden eyes on the treetop…

LION: Huh. Do my eyes deceive me, or is Guinea Fowl not up there? Usually I can spy his dark, glossy feathers in the tree! But right now, all I see are branches and leaves! That sneaky fellow must have moved on to another tree! So I’ll move on with my day. But mark my words: I’ll track down that bird eventually. There’s no way Guinea Fowl can hide from me!

NARRATOR: Of course, as Lion skulked off, little did he know that actually… there was a way Guinea Fowl could hide from him.

In fact… the “sneaky fellow” just did!

Because the whole time Lion was watching the tree, Guinea Fowl had been up there, snoozing in the branches.

But there was one big reason why Lion couldn’t see him. Or rather, there were thousands of tiny reasons.

Tiny bright-white reasons.

Any idea what I’m talking about?

[Audience responds]

NARRATOR: That’s right! Guinea Fowl’s bright white spots!

The speckled pattern of white spots on a dark background provided the perfect camouflage – and made Guinea Fowl all but disappear into the branches and leaves.

And that’s how it’s been ever since. So I guess you could say that Guinea Fowl’s spots have kept him from being… spotted.

GUINEA FOWL: Ha! I see what you did there!

NARRATOR: Right? And it’s all because you saved your best friend by thinking on the spot!

GUINEA FOWL: Ha! You did it again.

NARRATOR: Because she… was in a tough spot.


NARRATOR: Have you noticed I have a soft spot for puns?


NARRATOR: What, you don’t think my humor is spot on?

GUINEA FOWL: Can somebody stop her? Please?

NARRATOR: Alright, fine! We can end this story.

GUINEA FOWL: Thank goodness!


GUINEA FOWL: Ugh. Squawk!

Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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