Ja 209 Kakkarajātaka Compare the latter part of the Second Śakuntakajātaka, Mahāvastu ii. 250; the first line of the first verse and the whole of the second are nearly the same.
The Story about the Chicken (2s)

Alternative Title: Kukkuṭajātaka (Cst)

In the present one monk is very clever at taking care of himself. When the Buddha hears of it, he tells about a previous life in which the monk had been a bird who took good care to avoid being caught by a hunter.

The Bodhisatta = the Tree Devatā (Rukkhadevatā),
the young monk = the chicken (kukkuṭa),
Devadatta = the hunter (luddaka).

Past Compare: Mvu ii p 317 Śakuntaka (II).

Keywords: Taking care, Evasion, Devas, Animals, Birds.

“Many a tree have I seen.” This story the Teacher told while dwelling at Jetavana, about a monk who was one of the fellow-students of elder Sāriputta, Captain of the Dhamma.

This fellow, as we learn, {2.161} was clever at taking care of his person. Food very hot or very cold he would not eat, for fear it should do him harm. He never went out for fear of being hurt by cold or heat; and he would not have rice which was either over-boiled or too hard.

The Saṅgha learned how much care he took of himself. In the Dhamma Hall, they all discussed it. “Friend, what a clever fellow monk So-and-so is in knowing what is good for him!” The Teacher came in, and asked what they were talking of as they sat there together. They told him. Then he rejoined, [2.113] “Not only now is our young friend careful for his personal comfort. He was just the same in olden days.” And he told them a story.

In the past, in the reign of Brahmadatta, king of Benares, the Bodhisatta became a Tree Devatā in a forest glade. A certain fowler, with a decoy bird, hair noose, and stick, went into the forest in search of birds. He began to follow one old bird which flew off into the woods, trying to escape. The bird would not give him a chance of catching it in his snare, but kept rising and alighting, rising and alighting. So the fowler covered himself with twigs and branches, and set his noose and stick again and again. But the bird, wishing to make him ashamed of himself, sent forth a human voice and repeated the first verse:

1. “Many a tree have I seen
Growing in the woodland green:
But, O tree, they could not do
Any such strange things as you!”

So saying, the bird flew off and went elsewhere. When it had gone, the fowler repeated the second verse: {2.162}

2. “This old bird, that knows the snare,
Off has flown into the air;
Forth from out his cage has broken,
And with human voice has spoken!”

So said the fowler; and having hunted through the woods, took what he could catch and went home again.

When the Teacher had ended this discourse, he identified the Jātaka, “Devadatta was the fowler then, the young dandy was the bird, and the Tree Devatā that saw the whole thing was I myself.”