Pip was a very small pigeon who was learning to fly. He was slower to learn than his brothers and sisters, who were all much bigger than him.
Pip didn’t like being a pigeon, and especially such a tiny one. He wanted to be an eagle. Eagles were large, flew very fast and everyone admired them.
Every day Pip practised flying until his wings grew stronger. Then he began to explore.
One day he came to a clearing in the wood where a family was having a picnic. There was a flock of birds around them and they were throwing them breadcrumbs.
“They’re all beautiful birds,” said the little girl, whose name was Ellie. “But none of them are the kind that Uncle Pete is looking for.”
Pip pricked up his ears and moved closer. So what kind of bird could they have in mind? And he was puzzled, because there seemed to be every kind of bird right there, even an eagle.
“There’s one, there’s one,” Ellie suddenly called out, and pointed right at him. Now everyone was looking at him and Pip felt flustered and flew off home.
But he couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened – suddenly being the centre of attention like that – and the next day he returned to the same place.
“Yes, they were looking for a pigeon,” chirped a robin, who had popped out of his nest for a minute and spotted Pip. “But I can’t think why.” He was miffed that someone would prefer a pigeon to him.
Pip wished that he hadn’t flown off like that, and feared that he might never see Ellie again. Every day he searched for her, but she was nowhere to be found. Then just as he was about to give up, he found her picking blackberries.
“Will Uncle Pete ever be glad to see you,” she said happily. “If you want to be a carrier pigeon, that is?”
“What is a carrier pigeon?” Pip asked, for he had never heard of such a thing.
And Ellie explained that it was a pigeon trained to carry messages. “They’re tied around your neck or leg,” she told him.
“Gosh that sounds important,” Pip replied, feeling suddenly very happy to be just who he was.