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Watch the birdie

Watch the birdie is a phrase that was once quite popular, and is still occasionally seen. We will look at the industry that spawned the use of the phrase watch the birdie, what the term means and some examples of its use in sentences.

The phrase watch the birdie is an instruction given by a photographer to his subject, usually a child. Early photographers would hold a prop above the camera in order to gain a child’s attention, enabling them to photograph the child’s entire face. Often, these props were toy birds that would flap their wings or warble. In a time when children’s toys were simple rag dolls or marbles, such a toy would be a marvel. That moment of surprise was designed to stun the child into stillness, giving the photographer a chance to snap a crisp photo. Shutter speeds were much slower in the early years of photography. Today, photographers use a variety of toys to enthrall a child into sitting still for a good photograph. The phrase watch the birdie is now usually used for comic effect.


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Examples

Watch the birdie! Hilarious footage captures cheeky seagull grabbing mobile phone and RUNNING OFF with it after owner set it up to record her exercise routine (The Daily Mail)

Watch the birdie.. Pheasant left red faced after taking sneaky selfie in County Durham (The Chronicle)

Collins, always the perfect guest, duly lined up with everyone else, but when the photographer said “watch the birdie” Collins always dropped or turned his head. I have seen at least five or six of these photos from different weddings. (Irish Central)

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