The name they gave themselves, if any, is lost to history. Only oral histories and the fragmented ballad of Topal the Pilot, an epic poem called Aldmeri Udhendra Nibenu, offer glimpses of the ancient beast races that inhabited the land of Cyrod, but they are "shadowy, mist-drawn portraits of time before reckoning". The ballad that records their existence (translated as Father of the Niben) describes the adventures of the legendary Aldmer explorer Topal the Pilot, who charted the coasts of Tamriel and discovered the Niben River and Topal Bay. In the poem—which the translator, Florin Jaliil, thought might not be entirely factual—while Topal and his crew strove to return home to Firsthold, they traveled up the Niben River and the Niben Valley to Lake Rumare, where they encountered "brilliant flightful creatures of glorious colors" with "taloned feet". At first the "feathered men" were speaking Aldmeri, but the crew soon figured out they were only repeating what they had heard, not understanding the meaning to any of the words. Topal's crew taught the Bird Men their language as well as how to write with their feet, and in return the Bird Men made Topal their lord and granted him the "eight islands" that would later make up City Isle. Other histories say he purchased the Eight Islands from the beastfolk natives in exchange for the secret of literacy, rather than being given as a gift.
After Topal's departure, the "extraordinary bird creatures" are never mentioned again in recorded history, and are believed to have met their extinction at the hands of the "cat demons" (likely the ancient Khajiit) long before the Ayleids migrated to Cyrodiil. However, it is also said that their newfound skills of reading and writing were in vain, as it soon made them better slaves to the Ayleids. The Antiquarian Circle allegedly came into possession of a bird-person skull circa 2E 582, though its veracity was disputed by claims that it was in fact a terror bird skull.
- The Bird Men are not to be confused with harpies, an all-female species of birdlike women which were created sometime after 1E 808 in the city of Lainlyn.
- Amalien's dialogue in ESO
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Seat of Sundered Kings: Cyrodiil — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Father of the Niben — Florin Jaliil
- Decentius Opsius' dialogue in Oblivion
- Ghraewaj — Tidasus
- Pocket Guide to the Empire