The Fighting Mynahs: A story from Hawaii about how it's better to share and cooperate than to squabble and fight

"The Fighting Mynahs" is a story written by Leslie Ann Hayashi and published in the Spring 2008 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine.
Leslie Ann Hayashi
Grade Level

Four birds in a tree with a piece of fruit between them.

One early morning before the dew disappeared, two large mynah birds spied a ripe mango hanging from a tree. Sheltered from the hot sun, nourished by the rain, the fruit was perfect — a shining jewel fit for a king or queen.

The first mynah, an older bird who had survived many storms, moved toward the mango, cawing, “I’ve lived longer than you. I will eat this perfect fruit!”

Having never lost a fight, the second mynah answered, “I will rule after you’re gone so the mango should be mine!”

“You’re old and can learn no more,” replied the younger bird, pushing out his chest.

Rising into the air, the mynahs challenged each other again and again, making a huge racket and stirring up dust and small stones.

In the midst of their battle, a mother and father sparrow pecked small pieces from the mango to feed their large hungry family. Flying back and forth from the nest to the fruit, the sparrows carried piece after piece into their fledglings’ open mouths. Finally the children were full and fast asleep.

After hours of squabbling, the mynahs collapsed, tired and hungry. As they turned to look at their prize mango, much to their surprise, they saw hardly anything was left.

Copyright © Teaching Tolerance.
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    The narrator says the mango was perfect because it had been “sheltered” from the sun and “nourished” by the rain. Knowing that the fruit was perfect and that being sheltered from the sun and nourished by the rain helped it to get this way, what do you think these two words mean?
    Sheltered means protected or covered. Nourished means fed.
  2. Question
    What reason does the first mynah give for deserving the mango?
    He has lived longer, so he is older.
  3. Question
    What reasons does the second mynah give for deserving the mango?
    He will be in charge once the first mynah dies. He’s younger and can still learn, moreso than the first mynah.
  4. Question
    What happens while the mynahs are fighting?
    A mom and dad sparrow use the mango to feed their children.
  5. Question
    What is the moral of the story?
    It is better to share; otherwise, you might not get anything at all.
Reveal Answers