The name they gave themselves, if any, is lost to history. The only known record of their existence comes from the epic poem Father of the Niben, which 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". Topal's crew taught the Bird Men their language, and in return the Bird Men made Topal their lord and granted him the "eight islands" that would later make up City Isle.
After Topal's departure, the Bird Men 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 the secret of literacy was given to the beastfolk by Topal in return for the Eight Islands, though 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
- Father of the Niben — Florin Jaliil
- Decentius Opsius' dialogue in Oblivion
- Ghraewaj — Tidasus
- Pocket Guide to the Empire