The Farmer and the Stork
A Farmer placed nets over the field he’d just planted, catching a bunch of Cranes that came to eat his seed. Caught with them was a Stork that had broken his leg in the net.
The Stork didn’t want to meet the same fate as the Cranes and so begged the farmer for his freedom.
“Please take pity on me and my broken leg,” said the Stork, “and let me go – just this once. I’m no Crane; I’m a Stork, a bird of excellent character.”
The Stork continued. “I respect and work for my mother and father. And look: my feathers are nothing like that of a Crane.”
The Farmer snickered.
“You may be as you say, but what I know is this: I caught you with thieves, and so I will treat you like a thief.”
Moral: “Birds of a feather flock together.”
Moral: “People who hang out with bad people tend to be bad people.”
Comment: Like many of Aesop’s Fables, the Farmer and the Stork can seem a little harsh today. In the original the Stork pleads for his life; I’ve softened the translation to leave him pleading for his freedom.
You’ll find a very similar moral is conveyed in The Donkey and His Purchaser – the message of which is You Are Judged by the Company You Keep – but without the life and death nature of the story.
Notable: In the original, Cranes are the scavengers the Farmer catches because they are different from Storks but could be confused.