6.  Tale of Crow and Night Heron becoming Enemies

According to legend, in ancient times all birds had similar white feathers. Only the size and shape of their bodies made them look different from each other. When they flew in the sky, there was no way to tell what kind of birds they were. Because they would be mistaken for one another in this way, all the birds got together for a meeting and consulted with each other saying, "All of us have come together at this time to decide on how we should have different colors so that we are not mistaken for one another." After the meeting went on for a long while, they decided, "Whoever prefers a particular color, go ahead and be that color. Just make sure that your color patterns are different from one another." At that time, all the birds further agreed that Night Heron would be the master artist.
      Night Heron drew colors on all the birds in the patterns they desired, until only Crow and Night Heron himself were left. Night Heron asked Crow, "Brother Crow, what color would you like drawn on you?" Crow replied, "I will let you decide, Brother Night Heron, since you are the master artist. My only request is that whatever colors you choose to draw on me, just make sure it is done well and looks good." Night Heron responded, "Uy! If that is the case, I should only draw on you at night. That is when colors are most brilliant. Colors drawn during the day do not look nearly as good. However, Brother Crow, please draw colors on me first, then I will color you afterward."
      Crow drew beautiful spots on Night Heron to Night Heron's delight. When the sun set and it became dark, Night Heron called all the crows together and mixed a big pan of charcoal. He dipped cloth into the pan and smeared the crows all over, not leaving even the slightest speck on their bodies uncolored. The next morning, the crows saw that they were all pitch black and became very angry. At the first glimmer of dawn, however, the night herons had all flown away and hid themselves. Together the crows flew thoughout the forest, squawking in anguish, looking for the night herons so that they could peck them to death.
      For this reason, night herons forage for food only at night, because if they were to search for food during the day, they might encounter the crows, their mortal enemy who have sworn to kill them. Thus, when the sun rises, the night heron gather together and hide in the forest, something they continue to do to this very day.

©2010 Khmer Buddhist Relief