- “Songbird, Songbird, see him fly,
drop the children from the sky.
When the young ones misbehave,
escorts children to their grave.
Never back-talk, never lie,
or he'll drop you from the sky!”
- ― A Columbia nursery rhyme[src]
The Songbird was created by Fink Manufacturing and like most of Jeremiah Fink's technology, it was based on designs discovered through a Tear. In actuality, Fink managed to gain the design's blueprints from the Big Daddy. Collaborating with Dr. Yi Suchong of Rapture via Tears, experiments were made to create the beast. Much like the Big Daddy, the Songbird is a combination between a machine and a human. At first, multiple experiments were done with animals, such as gorillas and dogs, to create a successful psychological pairbond with Elizabeth. In the end, a crude prototype was assembled, connected to a breather. Attempts to psychologically indoctrinate the prototype were not successful, so Fink left it abandoned in his old laboratory. In the end, the bond between Songbird and Elizabeth was established by a freak accident -- Songbird escaped the laboratory and accidentally crashed into Elizabeth's tower, forcing Elizabeth to repair its breather. This created a successful pairbond between the creature and Elizabeth, and it would protect her fiercely — On the other hand, Suchong erroneously believed that DNA, in particular, a hair sample, was the cause of the pairbond, and attempted multiple times to figure out how to replicate the Songbird's pairbond with his own Big Daddies.
Songbird's mechanical features are similar to that of the Big Daddy, with color-changing eyes to indicate its mood. Green eyes indicate friendliness towards a person or object of focus, namely Elizabeth; orange indicates awareness but indifference to Songbird's surroundings; and red represents heavy hostility, chiefly towards Booker. Songbird's only weapons are the metal talons mounted on its feet and knuckles, but its immense size, strength, and speed allow it to effortlessly obliterate people, vehicles, and even structures.
When Elizabeth was imprisoned in Columbia, Songbird was created for the sole purpose of keeping her imprisoned within her Tower, and became the most feared creature in the city. During that time, it was Elizabeth's only companion, bringing her such things as books, toys, food, and drinks. Although it held her captive, the creature was her caretaker and protector. As a child, Elizabeth viewed Songbird as a friend, but later came to hate it for keeping her imprisoned. When she escapes, Songbird's intent is bringing her back, even if it means destroying anyone and anything near her, including Booker DeWitt and even the tower that she's kept in.
- Main article: BioShock Infinite
Songbird begins pursuing Booker and Elizabeth the moment she escapes from her room, destroying a huge portion of her tower in the process. Though it is capable of sundering entire portions of Columbia by ramming into them and emerging unscathed, it has one weakness: pressure. Designed for low-pressure environments, submersion in a few fathoms of water critically injures it in a short span of time. This weakness allows Booker to escape from Songbird once he falls into the waters of Battleship Bay.
While inside an elevator on their way to the Hall of Heroes, Elizabeth explains and demonstrates her ability to control tears by opening one to a windowsill. However, the Songbird of the Columbia she opened the tear to emerges out on the other side of the window. Before it can attack, though, Elizabeth closes the tear, revealing a propaganda poster of the Songbird in its place.
Once Booker and Elizabeth finally reach their airship, The First Lady, after the revolt at Fink Manufacturing, they begin to fly out of Columbia. Suddenly, a statue on the ship calls Songbird by playing a specific tune built into it. Songbird flies by the airship as Booker and Elizabeth frantically try to make it go faster. Songbird then attacks it and destroys it, causing them to crash land in the streets of Emporia at Port Prosperity.
At the end of Grand Central Depot, Elizabeth and Booker look for a code to unlock an elevator. Yet another statue plays the tune, which alerts Songbird to their location, and they barely escape detection. Elizabeth is shaken and dismayed by the encounter, and to console her, Booker assures her he will stop Songbird. Elizabeth responds that he can't possibly defeat the creature, and that if it came down to it, she would rather make Booker kill her than let Songbird take her back.
As Booker and Elizabeth pass the gate into Comstock House and head for the bridge, Songbird launches a surprise attack, flying from below and pinning Booker. It then grabs and throws Booker through a nearby building, quickly tearing its way inside to finish him off. Before Songbird can do so, however, Elizabeth yells out an apology, begging Songbird to take her back to the tower and spare Booker's life. Appeased, Songbird carries Elizabeth to Comstock House, where she is indoctrinated over the course of several years.
Songbird is not encountered again until Booker and Elizabeth take over Comstock's airship, The Hand of the Prophet. Through a note written by her future self, Elizabeth realizes she can control Songbird by playing the notes C, A, G, E to it on a device called the Whistler, found in every Songbird Defense System statue. She and Booker use Songbird to defend against a Vox Populi attack on the airship, then to destroy the Siphon which had been limiting her powers.
Upon the destruction of the tower, the resulting electrical feedback disables the Whistler as an enraged Songbird flies back to reclaim Elizabeth. Now fully in control of her powers, she transports the three to Rapture's Welcome Center, trapping the creature out in the water. Crushed to death by the pressure of the ocean, Songbird accepts its fate as Elizabeth comforts it in its final moments.
Burial at Sea - Episode 2
- Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2
When Elizabeth infiltrates Jeremiah Fink's laboratory beneath the Factory, she searches an area where she learns about how Songbird came to be. She comes across a prototype of Songbird's head, responding to a projection film. She spots evidence of the different methods in which the Columbian scientists tried to get the creature to bond and failed. Finally, she finds a projector in a small room. Upon using it, she learns that when she was just a child, Songbird had crashed into her tower, causing the tube to his oxygen supply to disconnect. After Elizabeth helped him out by reconnecting the tube, he offered his friendship to her, creating a bond that Elizabeth refers to as "The lion with the thorn in its paw".
Later on, after obtaining the Hair Sample, Elizabeth returns to The First Lady's docking point, only to see the ship fly away with her former self and Booker on it. When the vessel is no longer in sight, the Songbird's screech can be heard, indicating that he has attacked the airship.
Concept, Prelaunch, and Promotional Images
Behind the Scenes
- Originally, when first revealed in October 2010's issue of Game Informer, Songbird was referred to as simply "Him." The name didn't change until May 23, 2011, when interviews and a preview of the gameplay demo had finally revealed the name as Songbird.
- In the debut gameplay trailer, Songbird was given a voice similar to that of Big Daddies from Rapture. This was later changed by the time of the E3 2011 Gameplay Trailer to the inverse — being loud, high-pitched, screeching noises.
- Despite the above, Songbird still retains many Big Daddy-esque features: its eyes resemble portholes, and it also shows different moods by using the colors green, yellow, and red.
- Unlike Big Daddies, Songbird is a unique entity, as it resembles a giant gargoyle rather than a man in a diving suit. Songbird also does not use weapons to obtain its means, only its tremendous size and the force in its fists and claws. Compared to Big Daddies, Songbird is incredibly fast, even when seemingly passive. Songbird is also incapable of withstanding any form of water pressure, as opposed to the deep sea-diving Big Daddies.
- A 12-foot tall, 10-foot deep, and 10-foot wide Songbird was constructed to promote BioShock Infinite at 2011 Penny Arcade Expo East.
- Songbird appears to have eyelids. During the E3 2011 Gameplay Trailer, after pinning Booker down, it blinks several times. Why this would be required with what appears to be solid glass eye ports isn't known, although these might simply serve as extra protection.
- Ken Levine has mentioned that he based the visual design of Songbird off of the appearance of early aviators. This was to make Songbird feel like it really belonged to the world of Columbia, much like how the Big Daddy was quite a suitable addition to the world of Rapture.
- The Songbird's "skin" is mostly made out of leather, as said by Ken Levine in an interview. During its death, it is also shown to have metal fingers and to leak black oil, indicating that its frame is mostly robotic in nature.
- The Songbird made an appearance in PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale.
- As Songbird dies, a Little Sister can be seen in the background weeping over the body of her protector, a Bouncer Big Daddy, mirroring Elizabeth's own relation to her guardian.
- The nursery rhyme that portrays Songbird taking naughty children and dropping them out of the sky is likely a reference to the amorphous creature known as the Boogeyman, where parents tell their children that if they don't behave, the Boogeyman will get them.
- The unlockable Songbird model in the Columbian Archeological Society will bleed if it's shot at, making it the only character model that is able to be interacted with.
- When Booker exits the Fairgrounds, if he walks to the part with hopscotch drawings on the ground, there are children reciting the rhyme about Songbird.
- It seems that the scale of Songbird has changed within various versions of him presented in concept art, promotional material, and in-game. His size has ranged from being able to sit in a room with Elizabeth to being tall enough to make Elizabeth (and by extension, Booker) seem minuscule.
- When Elizabeth arrived in Rapture, she spent two months studying as one of Cohen's disciples. During this time he gave her the nickname of "Songbird", an obvious reference to her guardian.
- The study of Songbird's body found on a blackboard in the Factory during BioShock Infinite (seen in the Design section above), is a parody of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. The Songbird drawing itself was made by Laura Zimmermann, who even named the file on her portfolio:
laura-zimmermann-davila-vetruviansongbird.jpg("vitruvian" misspelled as "vetruvian").
- Columbia Timeline: 1896, Fink succesfully imprints Elizabeth on the Songbird.
- Game Informer #210, October 2010, Pages 56-57
- A blackboard found in the Imprinting Studies facility during Burial at Sea - Episode 2 shows this.
- The Making of Him at PAX East 2011 on IrrationalGames.com
- BioShock Infinite Creating a Monster on IGN
- Laura Zimmermann-Dávila's ArtStation Profile