Learning common types of birds and idioms is not the easiest thing to do, considering the complexity and variety of these vocabulary units. Yet, to feel comfortable in any conversation, you need to memorize them. Here you can find a list of bird names and an overview of the most common bird idioms.
Common Types of Birds
- guinea fowl
Bird Names with Picture
As Graceful as a Swan
People often associate swans with elegance and refinement. Thus, if you want to describe someone as graceful and limber, you can say that he or she is as graceful as a swan.
Example: Look at her smooth, elegant moves. She is as graceful as a swan.
Turn Geese into Swans
Swans come from the same biological family of water birds like geese. Yet, they are completely different in their behavior. This contrast served as the basis for the idiom “turn geese into swans.” You turn geese into swans when you exaggerate the qualities, skills, or accomplishments of a person.
Example: Don’t turn geese into swans. He is not as successful as you think.
All one’s Geese are Swans
The same contrast between the two birds is used in the idiom “all one’s geese are swans.” It means that someone is exaggerating.
Example: Mrs. Jackson likes to talk about the success of her children. Yet, she can’t see that all her geese are swans.
There is an ancient story that swans sing a song just before their death. This belief got its reflection in English. A swan song is the final work of a creator. It can be the last performance, artwork, or accomplishment someone achieves before death or retirement.
Example: This remarkable painting is a swan song of the artist.
To Pour Water on a Duck’s Back
Ducks like to swim a lot. They have “waterproof” feathers that help them swim and even dive underwater, staying dry. This is why the idiom “to pour water on a duck’s back” means to do something useless.
Example: Preaching to Peter is like pouring water on a duck’s back. He won’t listen to you.
Take to something like a Duck to Water
The ability of ducks to swim and float on the water is a well-known fact. Thus, if you take to something like a duck to water, it means that you learn it fast and without effort.
Example: James took to skiing like a duck to water.
A Lucky Duck
Another way to use the name of this bird in your speech is to say the expression “a lucky duck.” It means that someone is remarkably lucky.
Example: Have you won again? Wow, you are a lucky duck!
Make Ducks and Drakes of something
Have you ever skipped stones across the water? This game is called “Ducks and Drakes” in English. Even if this game seems fun, it is unlikely to bring you any success or positive results. Thus, when you make ducks and drakes of something, you waste or squander it.
Example: Stop making ducks and drakes of your education. You lose an opportunity to learn new skills.
Peacocks fascinate people with their impressive feathers, which are actually blown. Yet, due to structural coloration, they can reflect light. This is the reason why we see their fluorescent colors. The fancy appearance of peacocks and their peculiar walk is associated with vanity and pride in plays, dramas, poetry, and other types of art.
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As Vain as a Peacock and As Proud as a Peacock
Describes someone who is too arrogant, proud, or boastful.
Example: Carlos has been as vain as a peacock ever since he got promoted.
Eagles are known for their outstanding vision. It was estimated that they can see 5-8 times better than humans. Besides, they have a 340-degree field of vision. To illustrate, they can spot a rabbit being 2-3 miles (ca. 5 km) away from it. Such strong eyesight serves as a basis for idioms “eagle eye” and “to watch someone or something with an eagle eye.”
Example: The teacher was watching students with an eagle eye during the exam.
As Hoarse as a Crow
Some crow idioms are based on sounds that this bird produces. Although crows have a diversity of songs and call, these loud caws are not the most pleasant to hear. Thus, if a person has a raspy or hoarse voice, you can say that he or she is (as) hoarse as a crow.
Example: After a football match, I’m as hoarse as a crow.
Crow to Pluck
If you have to discuss something annoying, it is a crow to pluck.
Example: We have a crow to pluck. Why did you arrive late?
As the Crow Flies
Although it is not entirely true, people believe that crows fly in particularly straight lines. The phrase “as the crow flies” means a straight direction.
Example: It is 45 miles (ca. 72 km) away as the crow flies.
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