They are now quadrupeds whose forelimbs have become specialised as wings, and whose replite scales have evolved into feathers. Most birds fly (although several species, including the ostrich which was definitely known to the medieval world, have abandoned the air for a strictly terrestrial existence). As a class they are omnivorous: certain species eat grains or fruit; others eat meat, either carrion, or, in the case of (for example) hawks, owls and eagles, prey hunted down from the wing.
The roles of birds in medieval society
- messenger: pigeon?
Feathers from birds were used for various purposes.