All Flyers Are Birds

Birds are the animals most associated with flight. Because of this, any flying creature—fictional or real—are often given traits like birds. Building nests, singing songs, pecking holes, and so on.

Although birds are the most numerous of all flying vertebrates in terms of sheer number of species, they are only one group of the numerous creatures that take to the skies. Insects and bats are generally excluded from the All Flyers Are Birds trope, since they still live with us and we know their behavior like it's nothing, but prehistoric and fantasy creatures are still at risk. If you come across anything non-human with wings, expect it to perch on a tree at some point or another, or worse yet, tweet in a bird-like fashion. This may be acceptable in fantasy animals because they are, of course, original creations/species and you can do whatever the hell you want with them, but it's probably not as good an idea to apply this trope to species that really existed (or even worse, species that still do.)

This is a subtrope of All Animals Are Domesticated, and is essentially the airborne version of All Animals Are Dogs. For specific examples related to prehistoric life, see Ptero Soarer and Raptor Attack (for the case of Archaeopteryx and other early birds). For examples of birds themselves being treated badly, see Somewhere, an Ornithologist Is Crying.


Examples

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    General 
  • Prehistoric creatures in particular are guilty of this, especially pterosaurs. It's often the case that they stand on two legs, perch in trees, and construct bird-like nests. While it's debatable whether pterosaurs could climb trees, we do know that they were actually quadrupedal and nested on the ground.
    • In a similar manner, Archaeopteryx and other early bird relatives are depicted as being able to perch on trees. In reality they were more similar to non-avian deinonychosaurs, and were most likely ground-dwellers which could only glide for limited periods of time.
      • In fact, serious doubt has been cast on the idea that Archaeopteryx was even able to fly at all.
  • On the mythology side of things, Wyverns (a type of dragon, or dragon-like creature) are often depicted as having birdlike proportions and mannerisms, due to their decidedly avian body plan (two legs and two large wings). For example, you can often expect them to fill the role of Kidnapping Bird of Prey if no other mythological winged monsters are available.
    • Griffons tend to be depicted more like birds than lions, despite being half and half.

    Films — Animated 
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, the Deadly Nadder is the most bird-like of all dragons. It walks on two legs in a rather bird-like or dinosaur-like manner, preens its scales, makes bird-like squawks and warbles on occasion, and turns its head to the side when it looks at you, in a rather similar fashion to the songbirds who hunt worms in your everyday garden.
    • Averted by other dragons, though. Toothless in particular incorporates behaviors of big cats and horses.
  • The RatBirds from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs tend to behave like actual birds, though with some rat-like tendencies.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Pteranodons from Jurassic Park III nest in a very bird-like way, although the current paleontological evidence certainly says otherwise.
    • Played with in Jurassic World. The Pteranodons have grasping talons and jump to launch rather than vaulting with their wings. They also dive like gannets, but this quality is actually accurate to what real Pteranodons were capable of (indeed, it's believed to have been their main hunting method).
  • Ray Harryhausen's One Million Years BC has pterosaurs with eagle-like talons. Again, the Pteranodon also has a bird-like nest, complete with oversized Pteranodon babies.
  • In The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, a pterodactyl bores through wood like a woodpecker.
  • Rodan in many of its appearances exhibits several examples. It perches like a bird, it builds a nest, it lays outsized eggs, and it can grasp things (such as dolphins) in its talons. Considering Rodan is a fictional movie monster, the filmmakers weren't likely going for realism.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Anurognathus from Primeval perch in the trees like birds do.
  • Anurognathus also shows up in Walking with Dinosaurs as a symbiote of Diplodocus, intentionally following it and feeding on the insects living on its skin in the manner of modern birds like oxpeckers and cattle egrets. There is no basis for this, and in fact Diplodocus and Anurognathus lived in different continents.
    • To be fair, a relative of Anurognathus, Mesadactylus, did live alongside Diplodocus.
    • Research done since the release of "Walking With Dinosaurs" suggests that Anurognathus was nocturnal and caught insects while flying. Interestingly, that's still an example of this trope, as the same behavior is exhibited by modern birds like the nightjar.

    Religion 
  • The Bible says bats are birds in Leviticus 11:13-19:
''These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.
  • Arguably this is likely a translation error, with the native word for bird referring to any winged flying creature, much like Jonah being swallowed by a giant fish (more likely a whale because the word for fish was any swimmer).

    Videogames 
  • A lot of Flying-type Pokémon that have a bird-like body shape behave in a sort of avian fashion. Aerodactyl, for example, is often seen standing on two legs and carrying things in its talons like a bird of prey. A few bird Pokemon invert this trope, though, such as the flightless Doduo and Dodrio.
    • Even the Zubat family can learn moves named for or associated with birds, such as Brave Bird and Sky Attack (in Japanese: "Godbird"). Woobat, however, averts this.
    • The animation for Wing Attack shows feathers flying after the opponent is struck, even though Pokemon that can learn this attack include those that are based on bats, pterosaurs, dragons, dragonflies, mantises, manta rays...
    • Inverted with Lugia who is supposed to be some sort of bird-monster, but looks more like a dragon and doesn't act very bird-like at all (It sleeps in a cave at the bottom of the ocean rather than in a nest). Even the games point this out.
    • It appears that the flying type was originally going to be called Bird.
  • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! has "pterodactyls" that look like birds, grasp like birds, and make hawk-like noises.
  • Occurs only in writing in Tales of Symphonia, where, presumably for simplicity, creatures such as bats are classified as birds in the bestiary.

    Web Original 
  • Mortasheen actually inverts this trope. Most of the birdlike monsters there don't behave like real birds at all, and the one monster that is claimed to actually make a bird-like song doesn't even look like a bird at all!
  • Pteris from Neopets superficially resemble tiny adorable little Ptero Soarers, but they're referred to as birds by the narrative (they're described as having feathers and eating worms).

    Western Animation 
  • A fair few of the Mix-and-Match Critters of Avatar: The Last Airbender are partially based on birds, and so have bird-like mannerisms. The ostrich-horses are a refreshing aversion, though, because their behavior is a lot more equine.
  • Im A Dinosaur has feathered, bipedal pterosaurs that live in trees.
  • The Disney short The Flying Squirrel features a flying squirrel. While it doesn't flap its arms in imitation of a bird, its flight movements are birdlike in every other way. It can move up and down and a couple of times it even hovers.

    Real Life 
  • Early classification systems classified bats as birds.
  • Many pterosaurs in real life did in fact fill specific niches similar to those of modern birds. The famous Pteranodon fed like a pelican, diving into the water and snatching fish up in its beak. Rhamphorhynchus fed much like a seagull. Pterodactylus was a wader/prober like a shorebird. Pterodaustro filter fed like a flamingo. The giant Quetzalcoatlus was basically a massive marabou stork in behavior, picking up small animals with its long beak while walking around and swallowing them whole. Harpactognathus hunted like an eagle. Istiodactylus scavenged like a vulture. Anurognathus and its ilk were nocturnal aerial insectivores like nightjars (and bats). Tapejara and Tupandactylus may have been omnivorous fruit-eaters like hornbills. Indeed, some scientists believe that birds developed the diversity they have now to fill the niches left behind by pterosaurs after they went extinct (though this is somewhat controversial).