Paxton: How the G.R.E.A.T. Bird Got His Name

There once was a happy little bird who lived with his family high in the branches of an old oak tree near the center of the city park. One day, during a ferocious windstorm, the little bird was knocked from the comfort of his nest out onto the street below. Separated from his family and with no way back to the nest, he wandered the streets. Sadly, as he continued to walk, he was unknowingly moving further and further from his home. He panicked when he found himself standing at a very busy intersection with cars and people rushing back and forth.

He was not sure which way to turn. He knew it was too dangerous to continue, and he was, by this time, very tired and so very cold. Not knowing what else to do, he scurried to the side of the closest building and sat down. He began to cry.

A police officer, walking by, thought he heard someone crying and looked around to see who was in such distress. He was surprised to find the sound coming from a small, colorful bird huddled against a building. Thinking maybe he was seeing things or just tired from his shift, the officer rubbed his eyes and looked again, but the bird was still there. He cautiously approached it. "Hello, little bird," he said. "My name is Officer Paxton. Are you okay?" The officer chuckled, thinking how odd it was to find himself, a full-grown man, talking to a bird. Suddenly, the bird looked up and answered, "No." He sniffled, "I am not okay. I’m lost. I fell out of my nest, and I can’t find my mom and dad, and I’m hungry and cold." The officer stood dumbfounded. He looked at the bird and exclaimed, "You talk!" The little bird looked back at the officer and responded, "Well, of course I talk!"

Moving a little closer, the officer tactfully asked, “Well then, do you know where you live? Maybe I can take you home.”

“NO!” the little bird cried. “I wish I did know, but I don’t, and I’m really, really cold and hungry.”

“Do you have a name?” asked Officer Paxton.

“Nope,” the little bird sadly responded. “I don’t think I do.”

The officer replied, “Okay. Well, why don’t you come with me? I’m going over to the school to teach my weekly class. It’s a program for kids called G.R.E.A.T., and I’ll bet one of the kids can find you something warm to wear and something to eat.”

Officer Paxton offered to carry the little bird in his pocket to keep him safe and warm on the walk to the school. The bird hopped gratefully onto the officer’s open hand. Officer Paxton tucked him carefully into his coat pocket, where it was warm and cozy. Before long, the bird was sound asleep.

He was not sure how long he had been asleep before feeling himself being lifted from the safety of the pocket. “Hello again, little bird,” said the officer. “Are you ready to come out and meet my students? While you were sleeping, the kids found you something to wear and some food for your dinner.” Gently, the officer placed the little bird on a large wooden desk in the classroom. Everywhere he looked, the bird saw happy, smiling faces.

The kids pointed to a plate full of fruits and nuts for him to enjoy, a cool little pair of sneakers, a red woolen scarf, and a knit hat to keep him warm. Happily, the little bird ran to the clothes and quickly put them on. While enjoying his dinner, he thanked the children for their kindness.

“Whoa,” said one of the kids, “he talks!”

“What?” said another. “Birds don’t talk!”

“Well, this one does,” said Officer Paxton.

Everyone excitedly asked him his name and where he lived. The little bird responded, “I don’t know where I live. I fell out of my tree and cannot find my nest.”

All the children sighed and began looking at one another. The little bird said sadly, “I guess I don’t have a name, either. My mom and dad never got a chance to name me, and since I got lost, I suppose I never will have one.”

One of the kids said, “Let us give you a name.”

Another suggested, “Let’s have a contest, and then all the G.R.E.A.T. students can help to choose your name.” That’s a great idea, said Officer Paxton.

The little bird was overwhelmed by the kindness and the love he felt from the officer and the children. He waited eagerly to learn what name the children would give him.

A month later, the little bird stood proud and tall as he was honored with his name, Paxton. Alanis and Austin chose the name Paxton for the little bird to honor their G.R.E.A.T. instructor and all the kindness he showed to the little bird and his students.