A flock of blue-colored, egg-shaped birds come to rest on a power line by the side of the road in front of a wheat field. The birds non-verbally squawk and fuss at each other, but they are all distracted when a much larger, gawky, weird-looking bird arrives on the telephone pole. When the misfit bird lands on the wire its weight pulls the wire down and causes all the small birds to slide up against each other. They elect to solve this problem by pecking at the big bird until it falls off the line. This turns out to be a bad idea.
For the Birds played in theaters ahead of the Pixar feature Monsters, Inc. and was the studio's final production from their original Point Richmond studio before moving to their current Emeryville campus. The birds from For the Birds have since been seen in both Cars and Inside Out in Continuity Cameos.
- Animation Bump: The short presented two major technological challenges for the company - the animation of feathers and a continuously moving background (in this case, a rolling wheat field. Note the distinct lack of air in the outdoor scenes of the first Toy Story).
- The Bully: According to Pixar informational material, the first four birds have distinct personalities. From left to right they are Chipper, Bully, Snob, and Neurotic. Bully, appropriately, is the first one to peck at the large bird.
- Captain Oblivious: The big bird - it's one of his most endearing traits. He is completely clueless to the smaller birds teasing him, as well as their obvious annoyance when he perches in the middle of them (as they start angrily peeping at him, he cheerfully adds in his own honking, assuming it's all in fun). And when they start chanting for two of their number to peck his toes and make him fall, he joins in. Notable in that he's a rare example of a Captain who never gets brought out of his Oblivious state, yet still gets the last laugh on his tormentors.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: The big bird. Not that he ever realises it.
- Gang of Bullies: The small birds turn into this, with the two closest birds pecking away viciously at the large bird's feet while the others laugh.
- Good Is Dumb: The larger bird is nicer than the small birds, but is as dumb as rocks.
- Hand-or-Object Underwear: The large bird, laughing, gives one of the small birds a single leaf with which to cover himself. The other small birds are left holding their wings over their privates.
- Instantly Defeathered Bird: the mean smaller birds are slingshot from the telephone wire after trying to push off the big bird. Their feathers are all slung off their bodies in the process, and they drop back to earth completely plucked.
- The Klutz: The large bird. He accidentally slips off the powerline and seems completely unaware of his own size and weight in relation to his smaller companions.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The small birds get a much-deserved Hoist by His Own Petard moment when they force the large bird off the powerlines and the force of the line snapping upward blows all their feathers off.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The birds cheering the pecking birds on, as they all notice at once what trouble they're in.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: Well, there's assorted bird squawking.
- Naked People Are Funny: The large bird is greatly amused when all the small birds lose their feathers.
- Naked People Trapped Outside: The featherless blue birds act as if they're naked. The big bird laughs heartily.
- No Social Skills: The big bird doesn't seem to realize that the other smaller birds don't want him sitting on the power line.
- Oh, Crap!: Three distinct ones. First, a bird looks down and sees just how far down the line has gone. Second, the rest of the birds, as the first bird warns them. Finally, the birds doing the pecking, as the big bird is just about to lose his grip.
- Perpetual Molt: When the heavy large bird falls off the power line, it snaps back, throwing all the other birds in the air and knocking all of their feathers off all at once.
- Pop-Star Composer: Riders In The Sky, fresh off their previous collaboration with Pixar, provide the short's score. It was later released on their Monsters, Inc. tie-in album Scream Factory Favorites as "Big Wire Hop."
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The little birds. They even sound like squeaky toys!
- Right Out of My Clothes: Right out of their feathers, as the birds instantly lose all of their feathers when the power line snaps back.
- Slasher Smile: Two of the little birds give one off just before they start pecking to get the big bird off.
- The Unintelligible: The birds speak entirely in cheeps and squeaks.