A BIRD’S CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Duck-Hens ...... (with apologies to Charles Dickens)


Marleybird died and left his cage (and the all the bird seed) to his business partner, Pakshiscrooge.  Marleybird was a stingy old fowl; he and Pakshiscrooge were birds of a feather.  Everyone is a little afraid of Pakshiscrooge.  Even his long-time assistant Cratchit Canary, is far too afraid to ask for more seed for his starving family.

It's Christmas Eve and Pakshiscrooge’s neighbor, Aussie, a cheerful cockatiel, drops by the office and bids him a merry Christmas. Pakshiscrooge answers with his customary, “Bah! Humbird!” Aussie nevertheless invites the old parrot to join him and his buddy Bubba for dinner on Christmas Day.  Pakshiscrooge refuses; he doesn't believe in Christmas, he says.

"Come on, Pakshiscrooge!  Celebrate with me and Bubba!"

Two doves fly in.  They are collecting donations to help unwanted birds at Christmastime.  Pakshiscrooge says there are animal shelters and pet stores to look after or sell the homeless.  The doves insist that these are not good places for unwanted birds and many would rather die than go to them. Pakshiscrooge answers: “If they would rather die they may as well hurry up and do it to reduce the surplus population.”

Pakshiscrooge grizzles when Cratchit Canary asks to have all of Christmas Day off with pay but agrees when Cratchit Canary promises to come in even earlier than usual on the day after Christmas.

Pakshiscrooge goes home late in the evening. As he climbs through his cage door he notices that his favorite toy is glowing and has taken the shape of Marleybird's beak. He ruffles his feathers, looks at it again and sees the toy has resumed its usual shape. Must have been a trick of the light, he thinks, as he enters his cage.

Pakshiscrooge in his nightcap.

Pakshiscrooge crouches on his sleeping perch thinking about the toy changing form. His smallest copper bell then begins to clang by itself. Soon all the bells in the house are ringing but then they stop suddenly and Pakshiscrooge hears the sound of heavy chains being dragged toward his cage. Then Marleybird’s ghost flies into the cage! Marleybird is weighed down with chains welded from food cups, water bowls and cage locks. He rattles the chains and makes a horrible screech.

The ghost explains that he has come to warn Pakshiscrooge that (unless he changes his selfish ways) his burden beyond the grave will be even greater than Marleybird’s.  The ghost tells him three more ghosts will visit him to show him the error of his ways; Pakshiscrooge must heed their warnings if he is to redeem himself.

Barely has Pakshiscrooge regained his breath than a beak draws back the cover of his cage. It is the Parrot of Christmas Past, and he has come to show Pakshiscrooge the previous Christmases of his life.

The Parrot of Christmas Past Pulls back the cage cover.

First they see Pakshiscrooge's early childhood Christmas at his breeder’s aviary. Seeing his clutchmates happily playing with and sharing their food brings Pakshiscrooge to tears. Next  Parrot of Christmas Past shows him the following Christmas when his first owner came to get him from the breeder and take him home. Pakshiscrooge remembers how she gave him pizza and slices of fresh pear and is moved to tears.

Back in his cage again, Pakshiscrooge tries to go to sleep but another claw draws back the cover of his cage and opens the door. Pakshiscrooge hops into the next room where a huge macaw, the Parrot of Christmas Present, sits surrounded by a feast of Christmas nuts, fruits and seeds. the Parrot of Christmas Present explains to Pakshiscrooge that this is how his happy clutchmates celebrate Christmas now. As they watch the birds chattering and playing, the  Parrot of Christmas Present showers them with almonds and peanuts still in the shell, which adds to the fun.

The Parrot of Christmas Present

Then the  Parrot of Christmas Present takes Pakshiscrooge to Cratchit Canary’s cage. Inside the small cage Cratchit Canary’s hen and chicks are joyfully throwing around their bath water and scattering their sparse supply of canary seed.  As the family enjoys its small meal, Cratchit Canary wishes everyone a merry Christmas, and the chicks screech: “God bless us, every one!”

the  Parrot of Christmas Present next takes Pakshiscrooge to Aussie’s Christmas party, where Aussie and Bubba are describing Pakshiscrooge to their guests. Although the guests say Pakshiscrooge is mean, Aussie says he pities him because he is unhappy. Everybody is having a great time at the party, and Pakshiscrooge finds himself wishing he could join in.

Bubba tries to straighten Aussie's jacket.

The Parrot of Christmas Present then lifts one of his wings to reveal two starving and neglected chicks. He explains that one chick is Want and the other is Ignorance, and that they are the chicks of all beings. He warns Pakshiscrooge to be wary of both, especially Ignorance. Pakshiscrooge asks if these poor chicks have somewhere to go or someone to look after them but the  Parrot of Christmas Present mocks Pakshiscrooge’s earlier statement by saying that there are plenty of animal shelters and pet stores. The Parrot of Christmas Present then flies away.

Soon a third ghost visits Pakshiscrooge: the Parrot of Christmas Yet to Come. The ghost shows Pakshiscrooge a pet store where neglected birds huddle in fear as humans pass by and poke their fingers at them. 

Then Parrot of Christmas Yet to Come shows Pakshiscrooge the Cratchit’s cage: one cup is empty and there is no chirping or fluttering anymore. Cratchit Canary tells his hen Lavinia that Aussie was kind in his condolences. He says Aussie will try to find him another job and that cheers her a little.

Parrot of Christmas Yet to Come then leads Pakshiscrooge through the city.  When they fly past Pakshiscrooge's cage he sees another bird perching there!  The ghost then takes him to a cemetery and points to a grave.  Pakshiscrooge looks at the headstone and reads his own name.  He asks: “Are these shadows of things that Will be, or shadows of things that May be?” Parrot of Christmas Yet to Come again answers by pointing at the grave.

What did Pakshiscrooge do?