Alain de Lille describes Natures bird-covered gown in his De planctu naturae (c. 1170)

 

A garment, woven from silky wool and covered with many colors, was as the virgin's robe of state. Its appearance perpetually changed with many a different color and manifold hue. At first it startled the sight with the white radiance of the lily. Next, as if its simplicity had been thrown aside and it were striving for something better, it glowed with rosy 'life. Then, reaching the height of perfection, it gladdened the sight with the greenness of the emerald. Moreover, spun exceedingly fine, so as to escape the scrutiny of the eye, it was so delicate of substance that you would think it and the air of the same nature. On it, as a picture fancied to the sight, was being held a parliament of the living creation. There the eagle, first assuming youth, then age, and finally returning to the first, changed from Nestor to Adonis. There the hawk, chief of the realm of the air, demanded tribute from its subjects with violent tyranny. The kite assumed the character of hunter, and in its stealthy preying seemed like the ghost of the hawk. The falcon stirred up civil war against the heron, though this was not divided with equal balance, for that should not be thought of by the name of war where you strike, but I only am struck. The ostrich, disregarding a worldly life for a lonely, dwelt like a hermit in solitudes of desert places. The swan, herald of its own death, foretold with its honey-sweet lyre of music the stopping of its life. There on the peacock Nature had rained so great a treasure-store of beauty that you would think she afterwards would have gone begging. The phoenix died in its real self, but, by some miracle of nature, revived in another, and in its death aroused itself from the dead. The bird of concord paid tribute to Nature by decimating its brood. There lived sparrows, shrunk to low, pygmean atoms; while the crane opposite went to the excess of gigantic size. The pheasant, after it had endured the confinement of its natal island, flew into our worlds, destined to become the delight of princes. The cock, a popular astrologer, told with its voice's clock the divisions of the hours. But the wild cock derided its domestic idleness, and roamed abroad, wandering through the woody regions. The horned owl, prophet of misery, sang psalms of future deep sorrowing. The night owl was so gross with the dregs of ugliness that you would think that Nature had dozed at its making. The crow predicted things to come in the excitement of vain chatter. The dubiously colored magpie kept up a sleepless attention to argument. The jackdaw treasured trifles of its commendable thieving, showing the signs of inborn avarice. The dove, drunk with the sweet Dionean evil, labored at the sport of Cypris. The raven, hating the shame of rivalry, did not confess for its brood its own offspring, until the sign of dark color was disclosed, whereupon, as if disputing with itself it acknowledged the fact. The partridge shunned now the attacks of the powers of the air, now the traps of hunters, now the warning barks of dogs. The duck and the goose wintered, according to the same law of living, in their native land of streams. The turtle-dove, widowed of its mate, scorned to return to love, and refused the consolation of marrying again. The parrot on the anvil of its throat fashioned the coin of human speech. There the trick of a false voice beguiled the quail, ignorant of the deceit of the serpent's figure. The woodpecker, architect of its own small house, with its beak's pick made a little retreat in an oak. The hedgesparrow, putting aside the role of step-mother, with the maternal breast of devotion adopted as its child the alien offspring of the cuckoo; but the offspring, though the subject of so great a boon, yet knew itself not as own son, but as stepchild. The swallow returned from its wandering, and made with mud under a beam its nest and home. The nightingale, renewing the complaint of its ravishment, and making music of harmonious sweetness, gave excuse for the fall of its chastity. The lark, like a high-souled musician, offered the lyre of its throat, not with the artfulness of study but with the mastery of nature, as one most skilled in the lore of melody; and refining its tones into finer, separated these little notes into inseparable chains. The bat, bird of double sex, held the rank of cipher among small birds. These living things, although as it were in allegory moving there, seemed to exist actually.