Francis reached a place in which a great number of birds of different kinds gathered. When he saw them he ran swiftly toward them leaving his companions on the road. He was a man of great fervour, feeling much sweetness and tenderness even toward lesser, irrational creatures. When he was very close, seeing that they awaited him, he greeted them in his usual way.
Francis was quite surprised because the birds did not take flight as they usually do. Filled with great joy, he humbly requested that they listen to the word of God.
Francis said, "My brother birds, you should greatly praise your Creator, and love Him always. He gave you feathers to wear, wings to fly, and whatever you need. God made you noble among His creatures and gave you a home in the purity of the air so that though you neither sow nor reap, He nevertheless protects and governs you without your least care."
At these words, the birds rejoiced in a wonderful way according to their nature. They stretched their necks, spread their wings, opened their beaks and looked at him. Then he blessed them, and having made the sign of the cross, he gave them permission to fly off to another place. Francis and his companions went along their way, rejoicing and giving thanks to God Whom all creatures revere.
After the birds had listened so reverently to the word of God, Francis began to accuse himself of negligence because he had not preached to them before. From that day on, he carefully exhorted all birds, all animals, all reptiles, and also insensible creatures to praise and love the Creator, because daily invoking the name of the Saviour, he observed their obedience in his own experience.
- St. Francis