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Webcomic / The Bird Feeder

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The Bird Feeder is a webcomic, created by Ben Carlsen, that chronicles the lives of various backyard birds. It began in 2010 as a daily comic, has gone on hiatus several times, and as of 2017 is posted regularly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Most strips are in a four panel, daily newspaper style and format. On the whole, a sense of ornithological accuracy is attempted, though many liberties are taken for comedic effect.It has several recurring characters:

  • Floyd, a bluebird, a laid back, generally unflappable type.
  • Darryl, a cardinal, who is married and has several children. Over the course of the strip, he ends up with a total of 47 children.
  • Edna, another cardinal, who is married to Darryl.
  • Josh, a black-capped chickadee, who wears an actual cap that is removable and which has various functions, depending on his needs.
  • Gramps, Josh's grandfather, who is crotchety and geezerish.
  • Lewis, a crow, who is generally depressed and depressing, as well as studious, poetic, and romantic.
  • Clarence, a bluejay, who was adopted by Darryl but who mainly hangs around Lewis and shares many of the same qualities.
  • Tina, a hummingbird, who is extremely hyperactive and can never remain in the same place.
  • Jim and Terry, a pair of mockingbirds who tend towards sarcasm and rudeness.
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  • Exotic, an exotic bird of indeterminate species and gender, who claims to hail from the island of Combrobway.

The Bird Feeder provides examples of:

  • Acrophobic Bird: In #38, "Look out!", Josh isn't aerodynamic anymore due to his new cyborg cap, making it difficult for him to fly. Later, in #44, "Sleeping...", he doesn't even consider flying when in danger.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Exotic. The characters page states, "It is of uncertain gender, as no one has ever taken the time to check."
  • Anime Hair: Exotic's crown feathers resemble this.
  • Anticlimax: Common in many individual strips. A notable example of this in a longer arc is the Josh's Dream story, which had involved all of the birds gearing up to launch an all-out attack on the humans. The dream ends, however, with Josh realizing he can't go because he's in his underwear.
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  • Art Evolution: The art in the early strips is noticeably different, and not as refined.
  • Artistic License – Pharmacology: In #198, "Vitamins," Josh claims that vitamin X, which is contained in certain bird seeds, gives you shinier plumage. Or Josh is trying to poison Gramps.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Tina, a hyperactive hummingbird. Clearly set forth in her very first appearance in #6, "Short Attention Span," when a conversation is cut short when she is distracted by something off-panel.
  • Bamboo Technology: In #176, "Clock," Floyd builds a clock made entirely of sticks and leaves.
  • Beat Panel: Used quite often, and lampshaded in The Rant for #88, "Museum."
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: In #64, "Birthday," one of Darryl and Edna's children breaks out of its shell, at which point they both yell, "Happy Birthday!"
  • Cobweb of Disuse: In #118, "Cobwebs," one adorns a branch Floyd hasn't been on in a while.
  • Counting Sheep: In #90, "Beetles," Josh states that he counts beetles instead of sheep.
  • Crop Circles: In #55, "Grass Circles," Gramps is blamed for some grass circles created by Exotic.
  • Cut-and-Paste Comic: Generally, every panel of each strip is identical, apart from the characters' mouth shape and eye position.
  • Delivery Stork: In #155, "Baby Children," Darryl states that in the story he told his children, it was actually a heron.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In #31, "Oh Brother," Floyd repeats, "Sometimes there are things in life you just have to do."
  • Digging to China: Deconstructed in #54, "China." Terry thinks it's a silly idea to dig to China.
  • The Ditz: Terry is an idiot. Jim takes every opportunity to tell him so.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The first robin of spring is named Robin. Amazingly, as is revealed in #226, "Names," people still tend to forget.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The humour is often intentionally ruined in The Rant.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: In #140, "Predictions," Terry correctly predicts rain (though he had been predicting rain every day for the past week).
  • The Eeyore: Lewis. He's quite the downer.
  • Expospeak Gag: In #17, "Dinner," when Darryl asks what they'll be eating, Edna replies with the scientific names of the insects.
  • Failures on Ice: In #103, "Ice," Darryl tries unsuccessfully to land on a branch covered in ice.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Darryl.
    • The characters page states, "He is the only character that actually knows he’s in a comic strip."
    • In #207, "Vacation" he mentions the fourth wall by name.
    • The Rant for #399, "Another Apology," reiterates this point.
  • Fun T-Shirt: Both #85, "How Odd (1)," and #86, "How Odd (2)," were made into t-shirts.
  • Gag-per-Day Webcomics: Imitates a newspaper comic strip style.
  • Happily Married: Darryl and Edna, because cardinals (supposedly) mate for life.
  • Heinz Hybrid: Exotic. The characters page states that "its mother was a Victoria Crowned pigeon, its father was a kingfisher, and its grandfather was an emperor penguin."
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Discussed in #203, "Bird Talk," as Terry wonders whether they ought to use more bird-like jargon like "Gull!" when frustrated or "Great Auk!" when shocked.
  • Human Snowman: In #106, "Snow Bird," Floyd mistakes a snow covered Lewis for one of Josh's sculptures.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: As "backyard birds," the characters often observe and criticize the actions of the local humans, though some of them still rely on them for food (bird seed). The observed humans hardly ever appear in the comic, though their influence is felt.
  • Jerkass: Josh. He's not as horrible as some, but, as exemplified in #389, "Cruelty," when he kicks an innocent bug onto the ground, he can definitely be a jerk sometimes.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In #182, "Celebrities," Terry claims one shouldn't look down on someone who treats fictional characters as if they're real.
  • Magic Skirt: A variant occurs in #218, "Trapped." As Josh hangs upside down, his cap, which it has been shown is removable, amazingly remains attached to his head.
  • The Merch: In #216, "Shameful Self-Promotion," Darryl breaks the fourth wall to try to help "his cartoonist" to sell some product.
  • Mouse World: In general, the birds have their own society, with their own odd technology, customs, calendar, holidays, and such. Played both ways in #21, "Relative Size," as Josh wonders whether ants realize how small they are, and a human wonders whether Josh realizes how small he is.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Lewis is unique among crows.
    • #78, "Dinner," showed that has very refined tastes.
    • #147, "One Bird," showed that he isn't well-liked by other crows.
    • #287, "Other Crows," showed that he doesn't like other crows much, either.
  • Nine out of Ten Doctors Agree: Inverted by Josh in #15, "Statistics." He states that one out of three birds has yellow feathers, while standing in a group of three birds, none of which have yellow feathers.
  • No Name Given: Exotic. Originally only a mysterious exotic bird, and referred to only as "the exotic bird," and eventually simply nicknamed "Exotic."
  • Non-Indicative Name: Josh's sculptures in #194, "Rebuilding." In response to vandals adding feathers to his featherless sculpture entitled "Plucked," Josh creates another featherless sculpture entitled "Plumed."
  • Noodle Implements: In #159, "Disagreement," Darryl refers to a discarded peanut butter and jelly sandwich he wanted to feed his kids. From off-panel, Edna yells, "IT WAS DISGUSTING!"
  • Oblivious Adoption: Inverted with Darryl and Edna's adopted children, who, in the very first strip are revealed to be an adopted bluejay and titmouse, and were only adopted because Edna is colorblind. Done more traditionally with Tina. In #163, "Bunnies," she tries to find her real parents and accidentally adopts a rabbit.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In #9, "Disguise," Tina tries to spy on Floyd and Darryl by wearing huge glasses and a mustache.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Lewis. In #48, "Mimicry," he reveals that he sometimes tries to speak to people, but he doesn't seem to be very well-received by them.
  • Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: Parodied in #10, "Sund'y Comic." Lewis recites a poem with a large number of apostrophes, and Josh asks him if he can trade some of them for letters. Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize there's no way Josh could have noticed the apostrophes.
  • Raised by Wolves: In #162, "Even more adoption," it's revealed that Tina, a hummingbird, was apparently raised by rabbits.
  • Reveal Shot: In #49, "Earthquakes," which mainly works because of the grayscale backgrounds of the previous strips, what seems at first to be Floyd and Darryl standing on grass is revealed to be the two of them standing on a shaggy dog.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: In #72, "Defenestration," Lewis attempts to confide in Darryl about his fear of being thrown out of windows, but Darryl misses the point entirely due to his vocabulary not being quite large enough.
  • Somewhere, an Ornithologist Is Crying: While there is a veneer of accuracy, and often actual bird facts are used, there are several mistakes that have been made. A particularly egregious example occurs in #202, "Old Country," when Josh asks Gramps what he means when he refers to "the old country," and Gramps replies, "You know, Carolina," referring to the Carolina chickadee. Josh and Gramps are established as black-capped chickadees, which is a separate species. However, attempts have been made to apologize for inaccuracies, such as #373, "Size," which shows the actual relative sizes of the birds, and #398, "True Colors," and #399, "Another Apology," which shows the correct coloring of cardinals and bluebirds. This doesn't mean the inaccuracies have been corrected, though, and laziness is given as an excuse for continuing them.
  • Spoof Aesop: In #177, "Pretending," Terry recounts what he did to a human who appeared to be making fun of him. The moral: don't make fun of birds while holding a sandwich.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Lampshaded in #27, "Worms." Terry complains about birds being known to only eat worms, as he finds them disgusting.
  • Stock Shoutouts: To Roy Lichtenstein in #83, "A bit of physical humor."
  • The Stoner: Exotic. It even has its own special birdseed which "does strange things to you," as shown in #33, "Apologies and new exotic seeds."
  • Suicide as Comedy: A failed attempt by Terry occurs in #73, "Rice." Terry has heard that eating rice makes birds explode, and he is disappointed to find out the truth.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Conversed about in #8, "Death." Josh worries about his wing falling off suddenly while in flight. Later, in #323, "Balloons," he makes sure to have balloons handy for just such an emergency.
  • Sunday Strip: Lampshaded in #10, which is titled simply "Sund'y Comic," and which is in traditional Sunday comic format.
  • Surreal Humor: Basically anything having to do with Exotic and its Combrobway stories.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: In #39, "Carving," Floyd and Josh discover a heart carved into a tree with "A+B" inside of it. They're unable to figure out what it means, because Josh was never good at math.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: Josh's cap's abilities are a Running Gag in the comic. He claims that it's made of high-carbon surgical stainless steel, the bill can have a sharp point if needed, and it's shown to be extendable.
  • Those Two Guys: Jim and Terry always appear together, and generally no other characters appear in strips they're in. In their first appearances, they looked exactly alike.
  • Toon Physics: In #224, "Rain protection," it's used by Josh to torment Lewis. The bill of his cap extends to stop the rain from hitting Lewis, though the effect only works due to the perspective.
  • True Art Is Angsty: In #143, Lewis states that to sing like him, your soul must be filled with terrible sorrow.
  • Unnamed Parent: It seems that Gramps was always that old. In #229, "Gramps' Other Name," he says that when he was a kid they just called him "Pops." This is, however, subverted by the fact that, as it states in #228, "Gramps" is actually an acronym which stands for his full name, which is "Gornelius Russel Aristobulus Maximillian Patrick Seamus."
  • You Won't Like How I Taste: In #98, "Thanksgiving," having heard that humans eat birds on Thanksgiving, Darryl wears a bag over himself that says "DO NOT EAT."


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