A forest bird never wants a cage.
—Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) Norwegian Playwright
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.
—Robert Wilson Lynd (1879–1949) Irish Essayist, Critic
I hope you love birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven.
—Emily Dickinson (1830–86) American Poet
No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.
—Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) German Philosopher, Scholar, Writer
When thou seest an eagle, thou seest a portion of genius; lift up thy head!
—William Blake (1757–1827) English Poet, Painter, Printmaker
Everything perfect in its kind has to transcend its own kind, it must become something different and incomparable. In some notes the nightingale is still a bird; then it rises above its class and seems to suggest to every winged creature what singing is truly like.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
O fret not after knowledge—I have none, and yet my song comes native with the warmth. O fret not after knowledge—I have none, and yet the Evening listens.
—John Keats (1795–1821) English Poet
If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.
—Charles Lindbergh (1902–74) American Aviator, Inventor, Conservationist
The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life… . The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds—how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives—and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!
—John Burroughs (1837–1921) American Naturalist, Writer
To a man, ornithologists are tall, slender, and bearded so that they can stand motionless for hours, imitating kindly trees, as they watch for birds.
—Gore Vidal (1925–48) American Novelist, Essayist, Journalist, Playwright
The birds are moulting. If man could only moult also—his mind once a year it’s errors, his heart once a year it’s useless passions.
—James Lane Allen (1849–1925) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
Birds of a feather will gather together.
—Robert Burton (1577–1640) English Scholar, Clergyman
You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.
Enjoy the spring of love and youth, to some good angel leave the rest; For time will teach thee soon the truth, there are no birds in last year’s nest.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–82) American Poet, Educator, Academic
I know why the caged bird sings.
—Maya Angelou (1928–2014) American Poet
Did St Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.
—Rebecca West (1892–1983) English Author, Journalist, Literary Critic
A bird does not sing because he has an answer. He sings because he has a song.
—Joan Walsh Anglund (1926–2021) American Poet, Children’s Book Author
The bluebird carries the sky on his back.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished.
—G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) English Journalist, Novelist, Essayist, Poet
God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into the nest.
—Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–81) American Editor, Novelist
What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open-wood-fire? Do you hear those little chirps and twitters coming out of that piece of apple-wood? Those are the ghosts of the robins and blue-birds that sang upon the bough when it was in blossom last Spring. In Summer whole flocks of them come fluttering about the fruit-trees under the window: so I have singing birds all the year round.
—Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836–1907) American Writer, Poet, Critic, Editor
A late lark twitters from the quiet skies:
And from the west,
Where the sun, his day’s work ended,
Lingers as in content,
There falls on the old, gray city
An influence luminous and serene,
A shining peace.
—William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) English Poet, Critic, Editor
Happier of happy though I be, like them I cannot take possession of the sky, mount with a thoughtless impulse, and wheel there, one of a mighty multitude whose way and motion is a harmony and dance magnificent.
—William Wordsworth (1770–1850) English Poet
People live like birds in the woods: When the time comes, each must take flight.
One little bird not larger than a sparrow, it may have been a Phalarope, would alight on the turbulent surface where the breakers were five or six feet high, and float buoyantly there like a duck, cunningly taking to its wings and lifting itself a few feet through the air over the foaming crest of each breaker, but sometimes outriding safely a considerable billow which hid it some seconds, when its instinct told it that it would not break. It was a little creature thus to sport with the ocean, but it was as perfect a success in its way as the breakers in theirs.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
Inventive man has invented nothing—nothing from scratch. If he has produced a machine that in motion overcomes the law of gravity, he learned the essentials from the observation of birds.
—Dorothy Thompson (1893–1961) American Journalist, Radio Personality
The moment the little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.
—Eric Berne (1910–70) Canadian-American Psychiatrist
Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
—Henry van Dyke Jr. (1852–1933) American Author, Educator, Clergyman
It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.
—Aesop (620–564 BCE) Greek Fabulist
Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?
—Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890–1995) American Philanthropist, Socialite