A bird (taxonomic class Aves) is someone just like you and me. However, unlike you, they can fly, and how cool is that?
Birds are characterized by laying eggs and a four-chambered heart. This author has one, and often lays an egg. In contrast, birds also provide annoying chirps from daybreak to sunset. Also feathers, more feathers than Carmen Miranda.
Best of all, scientists say that birds are the last surviving dinosaurs. Many birds are counting the days until Barney keels over, as they are so certain that they will be willed all that PBS loot from his royalties. Though they are dinosaurs, very few birds eat humans. That is the best of both worlds.
Birds are among the most intelligent animals, if you don't count mammals. Some birds devise tools. For example, the CNC rotary lathe that revolutionized the mass production of knurled round things was invented by a thrush. Aesop wrote The Crow and the Pitcher (Perry №390) with a corvid as a literary tool. The crow allegedly dropped pebbles into a pitcher to raise the water to a level where it could drink it. Avianus the Avian stated, "This fable shows us that thoughtfulness is superior to brute strength." However, he did not explain why it is not quicker and more efficient to simply smash the jar with a baseball bat.
Birds first appeared during the Cretinous Period around 100 million years ago. DNA-based evidence shows that birds made out during the Cretinous-Palmolive extinction event that killed all the dinosaurs, probably because the Flintstones had too many Sport-Utility Vehicles per household and didn't mind their carbon footprint and turn off the lights when they went out. Birds may have sold short millions of shares of stock in buffets that catered to the about-to-get-extinct omnivores.
The dinosaurs got it but the birds survived it, hiding out in Paraguay like Adolf Hitler, then migrating to other parts of the world across land bridges (pictured). Archaeopteryx also survived, although it is not a true bird, as it has teeth and not just a beak. It made it all the way to Jurassic Park.
The evolution of arms into wings has given most birds their inspiring ability to fly. Only the Moa and other oddballs lack wings. There are some birds that have wings but nevertheless cannot fly, such as the penguin. Operating systems personified by the penguin have likewise failed to take off, but they do produce a decent chocolate biscuit.
Mankind has asked since Aesop's time, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" We now know that the reproductive cycle of the bird begins with bird seed. Put some bird seed in the back yard, and the next thing you know, it is full of birds. A bird's life cycle normally concludes after an encounter with a ginger tom, who delivers the body to their owner's doorstep, for an informal burial via dustpan and brush before the kids return from school.
What birds eat
The diet of a bird depends on which species it is and the type of beak it has fitted. Many birds eat insects, spiders, snails, slugs, and similar slimy organisms, which seems useful, though only the vulture has a strong enough constitution to swallow tax collectors and door-to-door salesmen.
Some birds are vegan, eating nothing but expensive sustainable organic seeds from Waitrose, whereas others prefer mice and fish. Some birds like to chomp down on other birds — which, though morally questionable, can save one from having to knock up a sausage stuffing for the family's weekly roast barn owl with honey-glazed vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.
Eat birds, wot?
When a bird is invited to dinner, it usually gets top billing on the marquee. Chicken and turkey are the best, but there other similar munchable varities. Chicken has a pleasant fried taste. Pheasant is just a chicken that wears a cravat and drives a Bentley. Wood pigeon is extremely tough, and is best grated onto the plate using a chisel, or cut up with a powered jigsaw.
It is a pity that those cute little feathered bastards don’t all taste like chicken, even when beautifully garnished with fries and cole slaw. A long skewer of long-tailed skua makes a decent enough kebab and don't snipe at boiled snipe either, although it is quite a tough little bustard. However, the dusky thrush tastes exquisite at the time, especially after a night out, but it delivers an itchy rash in an embarrassing place a few days later, followed by a week on penicillin. Turkey, on the other hand, can safely gobble and be gobbled. Pork is also delicious, especially with coconut cake. However, it will not belong in this article until pigs fly.
Birds have fascinated humanity ever since antiquity, when Aristophanes wrote The Birds (Ὄρνιθες). In this play, two men think they are birds, wind up becoming birds and living among the birds, and receive three separate queues of "unwanted visitors," each one making a wry and witty point about current events that would have made heads nod in 414 BC but is cryptic today and makes theater-goers who do not have Wikipedia on their mobile devices "fly the coop."
Mankind's infatuation with birds has involved the obvious joy they take in flying, their ability to sail past toll booths and sobriety checkpoints, and especially mankind's dreams of having sex in the air.
This has led to the pioneering flight at Kitty Hawk, the Space Shuttle Challenger, the nuclear missile, and finally the Mile-High Club. This culmination of the science of aviation was civilization's greatest "key club." Later, of course, they took the key locks off airline lavatory doors entirely, under pressure from the LGBT Community.
Since the invention of the Transportation Security Administration in the United States, and analogous agencies in other countries, mankind has recovered from the infatuation with the bird. The newest generation is instead infatuated with the earthworm and mole and spends all its time in the basement.
Cloud Cuckoo Land
Aristophanes' grab-bag of Greek inside jokes did venture beyond a boring stage play to leave one lasting impact on civilization: Cloud Cuckoo Land (Νεφελοκοκκυγία), a land of birds, where the people think they are birds, and where they pursue public policy that is for the birds.
Only two millennia later, this exact district sent Lord Margaret Thatcher to Parliament. She often compared opponents to her own constituents, back in Cloud Cuckoo Land, on account of the unrealistic nature of their proposals, compared to her own. She made Prime Minister and was the first bird to do so.
Birds of a feather
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Ronald Reagan was rising to power. He and Thatcher were birds of a feather — a damned peculiar expression, as none of us has ever met a bird that was not of a feather. Reagan's Cloud Cuckoo Land was California, where the birds all tweeted, "La la," and Rose Bird made her nest on the state supreme court and gave the panel the abbreviation ComiCal.
Many pundits thought Reagan's ascension to the presidency was a harbinger that Jim Crow would return, but Reagan did not even call out to him in a State of the Union address. It was though he had been tarred and feathered.
As a token of how well-done the nation has cooked its own goose, it went on to put a Quayle in the Vice Presidency. When America came to its senses and sent successor Dick Cheney to hunt quail, he bagged only Harry Whittington. Whittington was taken to Corpus Christi while Cheney was flown back to Washington, D.C., the Secret Service scolding him all the way back that any Texan from Wyoming should "know what you are shooting at, and know what is behind it!" Cheney could only protest that Whittington was in front of the target. The bird, meanwhile, got away completely.