When is a bird not a bird? When an author turns it into something else.
As a child, I was envious of birds—they got to fly and I didn’t (although not for lack of trying. However, the less said about that, the better). Later on, during my Teenage Romantic Period, I idealized them as emblems of The Natural World, beautiful and perfect, training Wordsworth’s “cloud of glory.” Later still, I discover that what birds trail are lice, vermin, and some very nasty diseases. Science ruins another cherished illusion.
But not completely. Bluebirds, orioles, hummingbirds, even the despised pigeon—they still carry connotations that transcend those of us gravity-bound on Terra. Many authors have exploited this to create birds that are more than warm-blooded bipeds—birds with ambition. Here are five: