The Idiom Connection Bird Idioms and Quizzes






Bird Idioms




Bird Idioms

an albatross (around someone's neck)

- a problem that prevents someone from succeeding or making progress

The man's lack of a university degree is an albatross around his neck and it prevents him from being promoted.

as a duck takes to water

- easily and naturally

When the boy learned to swim it was just as a duck takes to water. It was very easy.

as bald as a coot

- completely bald

The man in the gas station is as bald as a coot.

as crazy as a loon

- crazy

Our neighbor is as crazy as a loon.

as dead as a dodo

- dead, no longer in existence

The dog was as dead as a dodo after the accident.

as easy as duck soup

- very easy, requiring no effort

Convincing the man to buy the car was as easy as duck soup.

as free as a bird

- completely free, carefree

I was as free as a bird when I finished my final school exam.

as graceful as a swan

- very graceful

The figure skater is as graceful as a swan.

as happy as a lark

- very happy and cheerful

The boy was as happy as a lark when he received his birthday present.

as hoarse as a crow

- very hoarse

The professor was as hoarse as a crow during the lecture.

as mad as a wet hen

- angry

The nurse was as mad as a wet hen when the patient tried to bite her.

as naked as a jaybird

- naked

The little boy was as naked as a jaybird when he finished his bath.

as proud as a peacock

- very proud, haughty

The man is as proud as a peacock of his young son.

as scarce as hen's teeth

- very scarce or nonexistent

Cheap hotels in this city are as scarce as hen's teeth.

as silly as a goose

- very foolish, very silly

My aunt acted as silly as a goose last evening.

as soft as down

- very soft to the touch (down is the soft and fine feathers from a goose or duck)

The fur on the little dog is as soft as down.

as the crow flies

- by the most direct way, along a straight line between two places

As the crow flies, it is about six kilometers between my house and downtown.

as wise as an owl

- very wise

My grandfather is as wise as an owl and he seems to know everything.

a bat out of hell

- very fast (bats are not birds but are mammals that can fly)

The man left here like a bat out of hell. I do not know why he was in such a hurry.

bats in the belfry

- crazy, eccentric (bats are not birds but are mammals that can fly)

I think that my boss has bats in the belfry. His ideas are absolutely crazy.

bird brain

- someone who you think is stupid

The man is a bird brain and he always makes mistakes at work.

a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

- something that is certain is better than something that is not certain

"You should keep the prize money and not try to win more. Remember that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

birds and the bees

- the facts about sex and birth and life, the facts of life

The boy learned about the birds and the bees in his health education class at school.

birds-eye view

- a general view from above

"Let`s go up to the roof and get a birds-eye view of the surrounding area."

birds of a feather flock together

- people who are similar become friends or join together

"Do not complain about your friends. Remember, birds of a feather flock together. Your friends are just like you."

chicken and egg situation

- a situation where two things happen together and it is difficult to see which one of them caused the other, related to two factors - each of which causes or leads to the other

I do not know if I should buy a new computer so I can make some money with it or make some money first and then buy a new computer. It is a chicken and egg situation.

chicken feed

- a small sum of money

The amount of money that I spent last night was chicken feed and I am not worried about it at all.

chicken-livered

- cowardly, easily scared

The boy called his friend chicken-livered which made the friend very angry.

chicken out of (doing something)

- to stop doing something because of fear

My friend was planning to come with us but he chickened out at the last moment.

chickens come home to roost

- someone`s words or actions come back to cause trouble for him or her

The man is always unkind to other people. However, his chickens have come home to roost and people are now very unkind to him.

clip (someone`s) wings

- to limit someone, to bring someone under control

We plan to clip the supervisor's wings because he is becoming too aggressive when dealing with other people.

cock-and-bull story

- a silly story that is not true

The student told her teacher a cock-and-bull story about why she was absent.

cock of the walk

- someone who thinks that he or she is more important than others in a group

The supervisor thinks that he is cock of the walk. He thinks that he can do anything that he wants.

cold turkey

- immediate and complete withdrawal from something on which one has become dependent (used when someone stops taking addictive drugs or tries to stop a bad habit)

The government program helped the drug addicts stop using heroin cold turkey.
The man plans to quit smoking cold turkey.

cook (someone`s) goose

- to damage someone's plans, to damage or ruin someone

The woman cooked her goose when she fought against her company and lost.

count one`s chickens before they`re hatched

- to depend or think that you will get something before you actually have it

"Don`t count your chickens before they`re hatched. Remember, you may not get the new job so you should not spend too much money."

dead duck

- someone in a hopeless situation or condition

The man is a dead duck. When the police catch him he will have to go to jail.

duck soup

- a task that does not require much effort

The exam was duck soup. I am sure that I did very well.

eagle eye

- an intently watchful eye

The boy has an eagle eye and he never misses anything.

early bird

- someone who arrives someplace early or starts something early

I am an early bird and I like to arrive early at work every morning.

the early bird catches the worm

- a person who gets up early in the morning has the best chance of success

"Let`s leave at six o`clock in the morning. Remember, the early bird catches the worm."

eat crow

- to admit that you are mistaken or defeated

Our boss was forced to eat crow when he discovered that he was totally wrong.

eat like a bird

- to eat very little

The boy must be sick. He has been eating like a bird recently.

feather in one`s cap

- something to be proud of, an honor

Winning the speech contest was a feather in the boy's cap.

feather one`s nest

- use one's position for one`s own financial benefits - especially while holding public office

The politician was feathering his nest for many years until he lost the election.

fly the coop

- to escape, to leave (like a chicken escaping from a chicken coop)

The two boys wanted to fly the coop when the school bell rang.

for the birds

- not interesting, something that you do not like, worthless

The movie was for the birds so we left early and went to a restaurant.

foul one's own nest

- to harm one's own interests, to bring discredit to one's family

I do not want to foul my own nest so I try to be very honest in all of my dealings with others.

get one's ducks in a row

- to put one's affairs in order

When I get my ducks in a row I will be able to make a decision about a new career.

go to bed with the chickens

- to go to bed as the sun is setting, to go to bed very early

My grandfather always goes to bed with the chickens because he works on a farm.

a gone goose

- someone or something that has departed or run away

The boy is a gone goose. He will not be returning today.

goose bumps

- a prickly or bumpy feeling on one's skin because of cold or fear or excitement (like the skin of a goose or a chicken)

I got goose bumps as I watched the horror movie.

one's goose is cooked

- one has been discovered to have done something wrong and he or she is now in trouble, one is finished, one's chances for something are ruined

My goose is cooked. Soon my friend will discover that I lost her bicycle.

in fine feather

- in good humor

My friend is in fine feather today. He has been laughing all morning.

kill the goose that lays the golden egg

- to spoil or destroy something that is beneficial or makes a lot of money

My friends sold part of their business but it is the most profitable part. I think that they have killed the goose that lays the golden egg.

kill two birds with one stone

- to succeed in doing two things with only one action

"Let`s have the meeting when we come to town to go shopping so that we can kill two birds with one stone."

lame duck

- a politician who has only a little time left in office and therefore has little power

The politician is a lame-duck leader and he is not effective at all.

lay an egg

- to give a bad performance

The performer laid an egg at the concert last night.

like water off a duck`s back

- without any effect, easily

Criticism falls away from my father like water off a duck`s back and he never worries about anything.

a little bird told me

- something is learned from a mysterious and secret source who you do not want to name

A little bird told me that my friend will have a surprise birthday party for me next week.

look like the cat that swallowed the canary

- to look very self-satisfied, to look as if you have just had a great success

The boy looked like the cat that swallowed the canary after he won the relay race.

lovely weather for ducks

- rainy weather

I commented to the wet letter carrier that it was lovely weather for ducks today.

neither fish nor fowl

- something that does not belong to a definite group

The manager's idea was neither fish nor fowl. Nobody knew what to do about it.

night owl

- someone who likes to stay up very late at night

My friend is a night owl and he loves to stay up late at night.

no spring chicken

- not young anymore

I do not know how old my aunt is but she is no spring chicken.

pecking order

- the way that people are ranked in relation to each other

I have not worked at my company very long so I do not understand the pecking order yet.

play chicken

- to do something dangerous in order to see who becomes frightened first and stops

The two boys were playing chicken in the schoolyard.

rare bird

- someone who is unusual

The woman is a rare bird and has done many interesting things in her life.

ruffle its feathers

- a bird points its feathers outward

The bird sat in the tree and ruffled its feathers.

ruffle (someone's) feathers

- to upset or annoy someone

I am usually very careful not to ruffle my supervisor's feathers.

rule the roost

- to be the boss or manager somewhere - often at home (a roost is a place where birds can perch or sit)

My grandfather ruled the roost in his family.

run around like a chicken with its head cut off

- to run around frantically and with no aim or purpose

I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off all morning as I prepared for my trip.

scarcer than hen's teeth

- very scarce or nonexistent

People who know about computers are scarcer than hen's teeth in our company.

sitting duck

- an unsuspecting person who is easily fooled - as if waiting to be attacked

The soldier at the window was like a sitting duck for the enemy.

spread one's wings

- to begin to be independent and try new things

My uncle's friend is beginning to spread his wings and try many new things.

swan song

- the last work or performance by an artist before death or retirement

The actor's swan song was his magnificent performance in his recent movie.

take (someone) under one's wings

- to begin to look after and care for someone

The teacher took the young boy under her wings when he came to the school.

talk turkey

- to talk frankly, to talk business

I went to see my friend because I knew that it was time to talk turkey with him.

try out one's wings

- to try to do something that you have recently learned or become qualified to do

I plan to try out my wings at golfing now that my lessons have finished.

ugly duckling

- an ugly or plain child (who grows up to be pretty)

The girl was an ugly duckling when she was a child but now she is very beautiful.

under the wings of (someone)

- to be under the care or control or protection of someone

The new teacher is now under the wings of the principal of the school.

watch (someone or something) like a hawk

- to watch someone or something very carefully

The mother watched her young child like a hawk.

what's good/sauce for the goose is good/sauce for the gander

- what is good for one person should be good for another person as well

What's good for the goose is good for the gander and if the food is good enough for me, then it is good enough for the other members of our team.

wild goose chase

- a chase that is futile or worthless

The motorcycle riders led the police on a wild goose chase.

wing it

- to do the best in a situation that one is not prepared for

I forgot to study so I had to wing it on the test.

Chicken Idioms


as mad as a wet hen

- angry

The nurse was as mad as a wet hen when the patient tried to bite her.

as scarce as hen's teeth

- very scarce or nonexistent

Cheap hotels in this city are as scarce as hen's teeth.

chicken and egg situation

- a situation where two things happen together and it is difficult to see which one of them caused the other, related to two factors - each of which causes or leads to the other

I do not know if I should buy a new computer so I can make some money with it or make some money first and then buy a new computer. It is a chicken and egg situation.

chicken feed

- a small sum of money

The amount of money that I spent last night was chicken feed and I am not worried about it at all.

chicken-livered

- cowardly, easily scared

The boy called his friend chicken-livered which made the friend very angry.

chicken out of (doing something)

- to stop doing something because of fear

My friend was planning to come with us but he chickened out at the last moment.

chickens come home to roost

- someone`s words or actions come back to cause trouble for him or her

The man is always unkind to other people. However, his chickens have come home to roost and people are now very unkind to him.

count one`s chickens before they`re hatched

- to depend or think that you will get something before you actually have it

"Don`t count your chickens before they`re hatched. Remember, you may not get the new job so you should not spend too much money."

go to bed with the chickens

- to go to bed as the sun is setting, to go to bed very early

My grandfather always goes to bed with the chickens because he works on a farm.

no spring chicken

- not young anymore

I do not know how old my aunt is but she is no spring chicken.

play chicken

- to do something dangerous in order to see who becomes frightened first and stops

The two boys were playing chicken in the schoolyard.

run around like a chicken with its head cut off

- to run around frantically and with no aim or purpose

I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off all morning as I prepared for my trip.

scarcer than hen's teeth

- very scarce or nonexistent

People who know about computers are scarcer than hen's teeth in our company.

Crow Idioms


as hoarse as a crow

- very hoarse

The professor was as hoarse as a crow during the lecture.

as the crow flies

- by the most direct way, along a straight line between two places

As the crow flies, it is about six kilometers between my house and downtown.

eat crow

- to admit that you are mistaken or defeated

Our boss was forced to eat crow when he discovered that he was totally wrong.

Duck Idioms


as a duck takes to water

- easily and naturally

When the boy learned to swim it was just as a duck takes to water. It was very easy.

as easy as duck soup

- very easy, requiring no effort

Convincing the man to buy the car was as easy as duck soup.

dead duck

- someone in a hopeless situation or condition

The man is a dead duck. When the police catch him he will have to go to jail.

duck soup

- a task that does not require much effort

The exam was duck soup. I am sure that I did very well.

get one's ducks in a row

- to put one's affairs in order

When I get my ducks in a row I will be able to make a decision about a new career.

lame duck

- a politician who has only a little time left in office and therefore has little power

The politician is a lame-duck leader and he is not effective at all.

like water off a duck`s back

- without any effect, easily

Criticism falls away from my father like water off a duck`s back and he never worries about anything.

lovely weather for ducks

- rainy weather

I commented to the wet letter carrier that it was lovely weather for ducks today.

sitting duck

- an unsuspecting person who is easily fooled - as if waiting to be attacked

The soldier at the window was like a sitting duck for the enemy.

ugly duckling

- an ugly or plain child (who grows up to be pretty)

The girl was an ugly duckling when she was a child but now she is very beautiful.

Goose Idioms


as silly as a goose

- very foolish, very silly

My aunt acted as silly as a goose last evening.

cook (someone`s) goose

- to damage someone's plans, to damage or ruin someone

The woman cooked her goose when she fought against her company and lost.

a gone goose

- someone or something that has departed or run away

The boy is a gone goose. He will not be returning today.

goose bumps

- a prickly or bumpy feeling on one's skin because of cold or fear or excitement (like the skin of a goose or a chicken)

I got goose bumps as I watched the horror movie.

one's goose is cooked

- one has been discovered to have done something wrong and he or she is now in trouble, one is finished, one's chances for something are ruined

My goose is cooked. Soon my friend will discover that I lost her bicycle.

kill the goose that lays the golden egg

- to spoil or destroy something that is beneficial or makes a lot of money

My friends sold part of their business but it is the most profitable part. I think that they have killed the goose that lays the golden egg.

what's good/sauce for the goose is good/sauce for the gander

- what is good for one person should be good for another person as well

What's good for the goose is good for the gander and if the food is good enough for me, then it is good enough for the other members of our team.

wild goose chase

- a chase that is futile or worthless

The motorcycle riders led the police on a wild goose chase.

Owl Idioms


as wise as an owl

- very wise

My grandfather is as wise as an owl and he seems to know everything.

night owl

- someone who likes to stay up very late at night

My friend is a night owl and he loves to stay up late at night.

Swan Idioms


as graceful as a swan

- very graceful

The figure skater is as graceful as a swan.

swan song

- the last work or performance by an artist before death or retirement

The actor's swan song was his magnificent performance in his recent movie.


Idiom Quizzes - Birds

    Choose an idiom to replace the expression in the brackets:

  1. The boy won the science contest which is (an achievement that he can be proud of).

    (a) a bat out of hell (b) a feather in his cap (c) a cold turkey (d) a lame duck



  2. "This gathering is (boring and uninteresting). Let`s go home."

    (a) no spring chicken (b) chicken feed (c) for the birds (d) as the crow flies



  3. The supervisor was beginning to act too powerful so we had to (bring her under control).

    (a) chicken out (b) cook her goose (c) eat like a bird (d) clip her wings



  4. My friend was forced to (admit his mistake) when I phoned him.

    (a) eat crow (b) feather his nest (c) kill two birds with one stone (d) clip his wings



  5. The company made a big mistake by closing their small office. They (lost a chance to continue making a lot of money).

    (a) counted their chickens before they hatched (b) killed the goose that layed the golden egg (c) chickened out (d) cooked their goose



  6. (Directly) it is not very far to my friend's house, but because the river is between us it takes a long time.

    (a) Like water off a duck`s back (b) Like a bat out of hell (c) Like duck soup (d) As the crow flies



  7. We climbed up to the top of the tower to get a (good view) of the new stadium.

    (a) cold turkey (b) birds-eye view (c) dead duck (d) lame duck



  8. I was going to go on the canoe trip with my friends but finally I (became afraid and gave up).

    (a) killed two birds with one stone (b) feathered my nest (c) cooked my goose (d) chickened out



  9. The woman left the dining room (in a big hurry).

    (a) as the crow flies (b) cold turkey (c) like a bat out of hell (d) for the birds



  10. My grandmother is (not so young) but still she likes to play tennis.

    (a) a sitting duck (b) no spring chicken (c) an ugly duckling (d) chicken-livered


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