The Three Little Birds

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"The Three Little Birds" is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 96.[1] The story is originally written in Low German. It is Aarne-Thompson type 707, the dancing water, the singing apple, and the speaking bird.[2] The story resembles Ancilotto, King of Provino, by Giovanni Francesco Straparola. The story of the 756th night in the Arabian Nights is also similar.


Three sisters were tending cows when a king and his company went by. The oldest pointed at the king and said she would marry him or no one; her sisters pointed at ministers and said the same. The king summoned them before him, and then, because they were very beautiful, he married the oldest and his ministers married the youngest.

The king had to go on a journey, and had her sisters attend the queen. She gave birth to a son with a red star on his forehead. Her sisters threw him into the water and, though a bird sprang out of the water singing of what they had told and terrifying them, told the king the queen had given birth to a dog, but a fisherman fished the boy out of the water and raised him. The king said that whatever God sent was good, and again when it happened with his second son, but when they did the same with a third child, a daughter, and said the queen had given birth to a cat, he threw his wife into a prison.

One day, the other boys would not let the oldest fish with them, because he was a foundling. So he set out to find his father. He found an old woman fishing and told her she would fish long before she caught anything. She told him that he would search long before he found his father, and carried him over the water to do it. The next year, the second boy set out in search of the brother, and it fared the same with him. The next year, the girl set out as well, and when she found the woman, she said "May God bless your fishing." The old woman gave her a rod and told her to go to a castle, bring back a caged bird and a glass of water, and on the way back, strike a black dog with the rod. She did it, found her brothers on the way, and when she struck the dog, turned it into a handsome prince. They went back home to the fisherman.

The second son went hunting and, when he grew tired, played a flute. The king heard this and found him. He did not believe he was the fisherman's son, so the second son invited him home. There, the bird sang the story of what happened to them. The queen was let out of prison, the false sisters killed, and the daughter married the prince.

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