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Flitting across the waves and shallow straits,
High ecstasy she glides in graceful flight,
From lands afar, from royal kingdoms borne
Sheer mystery beyond the common sight.
Petitely formed, a ball of beak and bone,
Thy size shall never match thy wisdom sought
By restless souls forbidden yet to know
And break the crest of animated thought. esias ryder, A Travelling Bird, 1969
... Lived its meek life; then, one day, fell –
A little ball of feather and bone;
And how it perished, when piped farewell,
And where it wastes, are alike unknown ...
Go find it, faeries, go and find
That tiny pinch of priceless dust,
And bring a casket silver-lined,
And framed of gold that gems encrust ... Thomas Hardy, Shelley’s Skylark
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware. Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush, 1900
The thrushes sing as the sun is going,
And the finches whistle in ones and pairs,
And as it gets dark loud nightingales
Pipe, as they can when April wears,
As if all Time were theirs ... Thomas Hardy, Proud Songsters
The community of fowls to which Tess had been appointed as supervisor, purveyor, nurse, surgeon, and friend, made its headquarters in an old thatched cottage standing in an enclosure that had once been a garden, but was now a trampled and sanded square. The house was overrun with ivy, its chimney being enlarged by the boughs of the parasite to the aspect of a ruined tower. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulette I could have worn. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
Seeing these birds of paradise – these entirely new birds of paradise – must have been an extraordinary culmination of his quest. Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero II: Wallace in the Spice Islands
Because it’s an archipelago, because the islands are within reach, it is a recipe for division of species. Every now and again one or two finches gets blown across, because that happens rather seldom, there’s time for it to evolve in a different way on the new island. Professor Richard Dawkins, interview Darwin’s Brave New World, CBC 2009
According to local legend a bird was responsible for the seamless construction. Legends say the winged creature carried a powerful chemical in its beak – a substance capable of melting stone. Ancient Aliens s2e8: Unexplained Structures, History 2010
He conquered the world at the age of twenty. But the chaos that follows the self-styled baddest man on the planet trampled anyone in his way. ‘Tyson bit Evander Holyfield twice’. Now aged forty-four Mike’s rejected drugs and alcohol, embraced religion and undergone years of therapy. Now Mike has turned to the one thing in his life he’s always cared about. Determined to leave his bad behaviour in the past the former boxer is taking up bird racing. He’s returning home to New York and back to the people and the birds he grew up with. To a secret world that exists on the City’s skyline. Mike’s swapping the ring for the rooftops to compete in a six-month-long pigeon racing season ... Mike’s team of beginners is going up against seasoned pros. Taking on Tyson, Animal Planet 2011
At the age of eleven an encounter with a sadistic gang member flicked a switch in young Mike Tyson’s mind. It was the bloody death of a bird that provoked Mike to throw his first ever punch. ibid.
The first thing I ever loved in my life – I loved the pigeons. Mike Tyson
A large black bird flying towards me, shrieking, attacking me. Star Trek: Voyager: The Raven s4e6, Seven of Nine to Doctor & Janeway
Baldrick: It’s got a little ring round its neck. There’s a novelty.
George: Oh really. Is there a paper hat as well?
Baldrick: No, but there’s a joke. Blackadder Goes Forth: Plan B – Corporal Punishment, BBC 1989
I sent our top bird. Speckled Jim. My own true love who’s been with me since I was a nipper. ibid. Melchett to Blackadder
You shot my speckled Jim! ibid.
The case before us is that of the Crown v Captain Edmund Blackadder, the Flanders Pigeon Murderer! ibid. Melchett
I see all the birds are flown. Charles I, House of Commons 4th January 1642
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Mid-15th century proverb
The early bird catches the worm. Mid-17th century proverb
Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Archaeopteryx: Not the legs of a wizard but the wings of a bird. David Attenborough, Life on Earth VIII: Lords of the Air, BBC 1979
With song and dance, identities are established. ibid.
The air speed record is held a smaller flyer – a swift ... a hundred and seventy kilometres an hour. David Attenborough, Life on Earth (revised series), Fish, Birds & Reptiles
Feathers have enabled birds to master the air. ibid.
In the Russian Arctic at the beginning of the brief summer snow geese babies are hatching. David Attenborough, The Trials of Life II: Growing Up, BBC 1990
These Great Skewers ... are pirates ... and they are also extremely skilful hunters – they are killers. David Attenborough, The Trials of Life IV: Hunting and Escaping
Weaver birds are the great experts – it’s the males who do the building. David Attenborough, The Trials of Life VI: Home Making
But this is a Blue-footed Boobie. And when a male starts to court a female he leaves her in no doubt about that. David Attenborough, The Trials of Life XI: Courting
Surely the most spectacular of all is the display of the peacock. ibid.
Yellow-billed choughs go as high as any bird in the world. David Attenborough, The Living Planet I: A Portrait of the Earth: The Building of the Earth, BBC 1984
Not all owls use nest-holes; the Eagle owl nests on the ground often among rocks. David Attenborough, The Living Planet: The Northern Forests III
On the island of New Guinea there are forty-two different species of birds of paradise, each more bizarre than the last. David Attenborough, Planet Earth: Pole to Pole e1, BBC 2006