Devotions for Teachers

Devotions for the Classroom

Lying - The Clandestine Cuckoo

Interactive Classroom Devotional- Science/Bible/Literature

Topic:   Lying-The Clandestine Cuckoo

Scripture: Proverbs 12:5; Psalm 44:21

Level: Primary/Early Intermediate

Hook:  What is a cuckoo?  (bird; a rude put-down)

Vocabulary:  Clandestine (sly, tricky)


-In this story, listen for ways that the cuckoo is sly

-After the story, 

-How did the cuckoo lie to Arabella? (made the eggs to look like Arabella’s; pretended that the eggs were hers by getting rid of hers; secretly watched her to find out when she would be gone from the nest)

-What does the cuckoo teach us about sin? (We can easily be tricked into believing lies, like Arabella)

-How did Ida help Arabella (Ida told her the truth; she helped Arabella understand how the cuckoo had tricked her)

-Why would God make a bird like the cuckoo?  (We may not know why, but we can always learn lessons from God’s creation (Prov. 6:6-8)


Read up: 


The Clandestine Cuckoo


“What was that?” Arabella Reed-Warbler chirped to herself.

She looked to the right, to the left, and up and down.  No creature was around—at least none that she could see.

“I have a funny feeling that someone is spying on me,” said Arabella to her two newly-laid eggs, and fluffled her feathers.  

The eggs said nothing, of course.

“Well, I can’t sit here all day watching for something that isn’t there.  I need to swoop out and get some food.”  Arabella flew off to find some insects.

“Whoops!”  Arabella almost crashed into Ida Pipit who was catching some food as well.

 “So sorry, Ida Pipit—I’m feeling a bit uneasy, as if someone has been watching me lately. I was catching flies, and I didn’t see you,” said Arabella.

“That’s alright, Arabella.  I’m catching some food, too. I’m surprised to see you out and about, though.  Didn’t I hear that you have two new eggs in your nest?”

“Yes, I do, Ida.  Why?”

“Well, haven’t you heard that there is an intruder in our area?” asked Ida.

“No, I haven’t.”  Arabella snapped a blowfly.

“Yes—a cuckoo was seen in these parts.”

“A cuckoo—oh, my—I must get back to my nest!”  Arabella soared into the air.

 “I hope it’s not too late!”  Ida called after her.

Cuckoos!  Arabella didn’t know much about them, but she knew that they could steal eggs.  While above her nest, Arabella Reed-Warbler spied her two eggs from the sky.

“Thank goodness, you’re both still here,” she said, quickly floating down and settling on them.   “I’ve had such a fright; I won’t leave again until you have hatched.”

The next day, Arabella felt movement under her.  An egg was hatching.  She hopped aside and watched her chick push through the shell. Soon he was chirping for food.  

“You wait here while I go find something yummy!”  Arabella felt proud as she spread her wings and searched for insects.

“Hello--back so soon?”  Arabella heard a familiar voice.

“Yes, Ida Pipit, both of my eggs were safe.  One has just hatched, and I’m getting him something to eat,” said Arabella.  

“I hope that a cuckoo didn’t take one of yours and leave hers,” said Ida Pipit. 

“No, both my eggs look the same.  They were safe in my nest when I got home.  Sorry--can’t stay to chat.”  She caught some insects and flew off.

Arabella could hear her chick from far away, but it sounded as if there were other chicks instead of just one.  Had the second one hatched while she was away?

Back at the nest, Arabella fed the noisy chick, and checked for the other egg.  It was gone!  Where was it?  What had happened?  Her chick began chirping loudly again.  “How can you be hungry?  I just fed you!  Let those bugs digest first.”

But the chick kept chirping.  Arabella left the nest again…and again…and again.  

Over the next few days, Arabella made many, many trips for food.  “Look at you,” she said to her chick, proudly. “You can barely fit in the nest anymore.  I should have built a bigger one—I didn’t know that you would grow this large!”  

Suddenly, a shadow covered the nest.

“Look out,” she squawked.

“It’s only me,” said Ida Pipit, landing on a nearby reed.  “My goodness, that’s a big chick!”

“He has grown so much, hasn’t he!” said Arabella.

“He’s bigger than you are—haven’t you noticed?” said Ida.  “That’s a cuckoo chick, for sure!”

“How can you say that?” asked Arabella.  “I have been here the whole time.”

“Have you?” asked Ida.  “It only takes ten seconds for a cuckoo to swoop in, eat your egg, and leave one of her own.”

“She left one of her own?”

“Yes.  It probably happened when you flew out for food the other day,” said Ida.  “As well, cuckoos can lay eggs that look like yours.  If you don’t check carefully and get rid of them, they will hatch and you will be stuck with them.

“Oh my, I didn’t carefully check the eggs,” said Arabella. 

“Didn’t you say that you had two of them?”  Ida asked.

“Yes—I came back after getting his first meal, and the other egg was gone.  I didn’t know what had happened, but I didn’t have time to investigate,” said Arabella.

“This little chick got rid of your egg.  That’s what cuckoo chicks do—that leaves more food for them,” said Ida.

“That’s terrible!” 

“Didn’t the chirping sound odd to you?  One chick can sound like a dozen,” said Ida. “That’s how they get you to keep bringing food.”

“Yes—that’s the sound!  Ida, I missed the clues because I didn’t know enough about cuckoos.”

“Another clue is to look at the size.  Would your own reed warbler chick be bigger than you?  He doesn’t even look like you!”

“Oh dear—you are right!  Now what do I do?”

“Well, he will soon be off, flying to Africa to join his real parents,” said Ida.  “And you will be left with an empty nest!”

Three weeks later, Arabella flew to Ida’s nest.

“You were right, Ida—the chick is gone.  Now I have to wait a year until I can have my own chicks.  Thank you for being a good friend and for telling me more about cuckoos.  The next time I feel like someone is spying on me, I will be very careful.  I do not want to be tricked again!”