"The Clockwork Chickadee" is, simply, a story of deceit and trickery as a little windup Chickadee plots her revenge on the little windup Sparrow.
Chickadee kept her head down when she could so as not to give him the satisfaction of her notice. It was clear to her that any bird could fly if only they were attached to a string like him. The flight, of which he was so proud, was not even an integral part of his clockwork. A wind-up engine hanging from the chandelier spun him in circles while he merely flapped his wings. Chickadee could do as much. And so she thought until she hatched an idea to show that Sparrow was not so very special.The story is, in turn, playful and charming, well thought out and deliberate, and Kowal appears to have written her own version of an O Henry story.
It should come as no surprise that I quite enjoyed "The Clockwork Chickadee" as I am a noted fan of Mary Robinette Kowal's work, but written with a simplicity which likely masks the work that went into crafting the story and making sure that what happens at the end is, in fact, set up at the beginning "The Clockwork Chickadee" is as good as anything she has published before.