"Birds" is the second episode of the B Series of QI and the 14th episode overall. It was first broadcast on BBC Two on 15 October 2004. It marked the first appearance of Phil Kay.


Numbers in brackets mark appearances - e.g. "(2)" means "(second appearance)".

  1. Rich Hall (4): 3 points
  2. Phil Kay (1): 1 point
  3. Jo Brand (6): -8 points
  4. Alan Davies (14): -40 points


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  • David Livingstone couldn't distinguish between the roar of an ostrich and the roar of a lion and claimed that the only difference was that the ostrich is seen during the day and the lion during the night.
  • The tongue of a woodpecker can extend to two-thirds of its body-length, has sticky saliva, is covered in vicious barbs and has an ear at the end of it. The tongue goes around the back of its head when it's not outside its mouth. They can also beat wood 15 times a second, which is 250 times the force that astronauts are subjected to. It has lots of cartilage around its head as well. Woodpeckers are very popular on creationist websites, as it is argued that the animal is so well-designed for its purpose that it could not have evolved and must have been created.
  • Since they have only 20–30 taste buds, birds can't distinguish the taste of chocolate, which is toxic to them anyway. Humans have 9–10,000 taste buds, but new ones are grown every 5 days.
  • Skin, the largest organ in the body,[1] weighs 6 lb (2.7 kg) and covers 18 square feet (1.7 m2) on average. A single square inch of skin has 20 feet (6.1 m) of blood vessels, 1,300 nerve cells and 100 sweat glands. 50,000 cells are lost every second. A person will get through around 900 "skins" in a lifetime.
  • Sperm can "smell" the aroma of Lily of the Valley. It has long been a mystery of how the sperm can swim so fast to the ovum, and whether there is a scent trail, so German scientists how tried all kinds of different scents, including Lily of the Valley. There are proposals to place it in maternity clinics.
  • Chang and Eng Bunker were Siamese twins. Chang was once convicted of general assault on a member of the audience during one of the twins' variety acts. However, the judge in the case could not hold Eng in prison as well, so he set them both free. The Bunkers created the term "Siamese twins" for people who are conjoined, because they were originally from Siam. They lived till the age of 63 and married a pair of sisters and had 21 children between them. On the journey from Siam, one of the twins wanted a cold bath and the other didn't, so the captain had to placate them. Chang was a drunk and died first, so Eng woke up waiting for a doctor to separate them. Eng then died an hour later as he wrapped himself round his twin. It is believed he died from a broken heart, because he had no reason to die.

General IgnoranceEdit

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  • The loudest thing in the ocean is the shrimp layer.[2] All the bubbles that come out from them clapping their claws make the noise. It travels at 30 feet per second (9.1 m/s) and then pops. It can wake people up on coastal communities. They can white out the sonar of a submarine and deafen the operators through their headphones. A blue whale can hear another blue whale 10,000 miles (16,000 km) away, but in terms of amplitude, a normal person can't hear that.
  • Which is more likely to happen: being killed by lightning or by an asteroid?[3] – Despite the shows assertion that "statistically in the United Kingdom, one is more likely to be killed by an asteroid than by lightning", this is not strictly the case. The statistic in question refers only to the chance of dying as a result of said event. Id est; dying as a result of being struck by lightning against dying as a result of a meteor impact. The facts presented are correct in as much as it is true that if struck by lightning one has a higher chance of survival than if a meteor struck the Earth. It is not the case that at any given moment one is more likely to die from an asteroid impact.
  • Camels originated from the continent of America,[4][5] 20 million years ago. They spread across to other continents, because back then Bering Strait was land, rather than sea. They became extinct in North America during the last Ice Age.
  • Despite being pink, the Flamingo eats blue-green algae to get their pink colour.[6] Flamingos fall over if they stood on both legs.
  • Fry tells the story of Stephens Island wren, the only flightless perching bird ever recorded, which was supposed wiped out by a single individual: the pet cat of a lighthouse keeper, Tibbles. (Note: This has since been discovered to be untrue, as there were some specimens found at a time when the island was home to numerous feral cats.)


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The panel were asked to draw a kiwi, paying particular attention to the position of the nostrils. Alan correctly drew its nostrils at the end of the beak. Officially, a bird's bill is measured from the tip to the nostril, so the kiwi has the shortest bill of all birds.


  1. Speak for yourself
  2. Blue Whale
  3. Struck by lightning
  4. Africa
  5. Asia
  6. Eating shrimps
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