A buzzard egg is mysteriously delivered to two sparrows, Gwendolyn and Monte. The "upper crusty" and very proper English Sparrows are not accustomed to having a repulsively ugly (and incredibly stupid) little bird about, but Gwendolyn convinces her husband that the baby bird will grow into a "beautiful swan". Unfortunately, as the narrator tells us, the little ugly bird grows into a very large ugly bird. Monte cannot even stand hearing the name of their "progeny", particularly when eating. But nonetheless, he takes Beaky out into the world to demonstrate the art of hunting for prey, such as barnyard fowl. Of course Beaky, being incredibly shy and inept, repeatedly causes many grievous injuries to Monte, and it is all Monte can do to salvage what little self-respect remains.