The Bodhisatta was once a quail. He, as his ancestors had done, got food from farm fields, hopping over the clods left behind after plowing. One day he decided to try a new feeding ground and flew off to the edge of a forest. While he picked up food there, a falcon flew in and grabbed him. As he was being carried away, the Bodhisatta cried out, “How stupid am I. Seized on someone else’s patch. If only I had kept to my own feeding ground, then the falcon would have been no match for me.” The arrogant falcon told the Bodhisatta he could catch him anywhere and released his grip. The quail flew back to his field and stood atop an immense clod, calling out, “Come on, falcon!” The falcon swooped down as fast as he could, and at the last moment the quail rolled over, causing the falcon to smash into the dirt and die.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
One day at assembly, the Buddha told his disciples to stick to their own districts when collecting alms so they did not succumb to temptation. He told them this story as an example of the benefits of being in your own place and the dangers of leaving it.
The falcon was an earlier birth of Devadatta, a disciple of the Buddha who became his nemesis.