old bird


Also found in: Idioms.

old bird

n
jocular a wary and astute person
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in classic literature ?
"Hold your tongue, you disrespectful old bird! And, Jo, you'd better go at once.
He was a queer old bird. He had a most almighty row with the governor in this office only a month or two ago about absolutely nothing.
If the old bird profited by this occasional habit, or if the young were made more vigorous by advantage having been taken of the mistaken maternal instinct of another bird, than by their own mother's care, encumbered as she can hardly fail to be by having eggs and young of different ages at the same time; then the old birds or the fostered young would gain an advantage.
"She's a rum old bird," they said, "but mind you, she's not a bad sort, she's not like what some are."
With his long beak-like nose and his single gleaming eye, which shone brightly from under a thick tuft of grizzled brow, he seemed to Alleyne to have something of the look of some fierce old bird of prey.
I'm getting to be a old bird, and I want to take it easy.
In the first place, he half-poisoned all his neighbours, and they in turn were always on the lookout to pounce upon any of his numerous live-stock, and drive him frantic by enticing his pet old magpie out of his window into a neighbouring study, and making the disreputable old bird drunk on toast soaked in beer and sugar.
It is better to be a young June bug than an old bird of paradise.
He seemed an uppish old bird. His brothers of science don't seem too fond of him, either.
The young suddenly disperse on your approach, at a signal from the mother, as if a whirlwind had swept them away, and they so exactly resemble the dried leaves and twigs that many a traveler has placed his foot in the midst of a brood, and heard the whir of the old bird as she flew off, and her anxious calls and mewing, or seen her trail her wings to attract his attention, without suspecting their neighborhood.
Haley, notwithstanding that he was a very old bird, and naturally inclined to be suspicious of chaff, was rather brought up by this view of the case.
As to what I dare, I'm a old bird now, as has dared all manner of traps since first he was fledged, and I'm not afeerd to perch upon a scarecrow.