By Vol-E, originally told by UU Minister J.B.:
A man, hunting in the woods, captured a bird, which immediately began to talk. The man was thrilled, dreaming out loud of the money he could make.
The bird spoke up. “Hey, that’s a great plan, but what happens if I croak? You don’t know how long my natural lifespan is, and neither do I. If you promise to let me go free, I’ll give you 3 pieces of advice that can help you be successful as long as you live!”
The man thought about it. This bird must be really wise, if he could talk that way. So he agreed and let the bird go. The bird flew up onto a branch and said, “Okay, here you go. Number one: Never regret your decisions. Number two: Never believe something that’s obviously impossible. Number three: Know your limits and don’t over-reach. Bye!” The bird flew up to a higher branch, looked down at the man and said “Whoops, I forgot to tell you something. I’ve got 37 pounds of diamonds in my belly. S’long, sucker!”
The man became enraged and thought he must be really stupid for letting such a valuable bird go. “Even if you die, those diamonds could make me rich!” he said, and began shooting at the bird. But the bird dodged the pellets and flew from branch to branch, taunting the man (in flawless English, naturally).
The man ran out of birdshot, but refused to give up. He began climbing the tree in hopes of reaching the bird where he was perched. The bird let the man get almost within grabbing distance, and then flew up to a higher branch. This went on for a long time. Finally, the bird was at the top of the tree, but the man was still scrambling from limb to limb, determined to capture the bird. He again got almost within grabbing distance of the bird. The bird was stretching his wings, getting ready to fly somewhere else, when the limb broke. The man fell 50 feet to the ground, breaking a leg, an arm, and his nose.
The bird flew down to the ground and sat near the man, just out of arm’s reach. He said, quietly, “You know, you really are a dummy. Don’t you remember what I told you when you let me go? Letting me go was the smartest thing you ever did…but then you blew it. Remember the three pieces of advice?
“Number one: Never regret your decisions. As soon as you let me go, you regretted it, and look where that got you. You just wasted your whole afternoon and now you’ll be limping around for months.
“Number two: Never believe something that’s obviously impossible. Look at me….you held me in your hand. Now, how could you believe I had 37 pounds of diamonds in my belly?“Number three: Know your limits and don’t over-reach. You over-reached, and fell out of that tree. What did you think you were, a squirrel? You’re just a human. A very stupid one. Bye!” He gave the hunter an exquisitely gentle "peck" on the hand (the one attached to the broken arm, to prevent grabbing), and flew off, never to be seen again.