- "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 Columbian nursery rhyme
Songbird is a 60-foot winged creature or construct of undetermined origins that is feared by the citizens of Columbia, and is Elizabeth's guardian. It is an influential character in BioShock Infinite.
A Voxophone recording, along with blueprints found at Fink Factory, show that Songbird was created by Fink Industries. As with most of Fink's technology, it was based off designs discovered through a Tear. The blueprints were described as showing "a merger of machine and man, that was the lesser of man yet the greater of both parties", suggesting Jeremiah Fink had witnessed a design sheet for a Big Daddy. It is unknown how similar the Songbird's physiology really is to Big Daddies, as the details for the Songbird's creation are never given. It is possible that the Songbird was merely inspired by the Big Daddies, but doesn't have many internal similarities. The subject used for Songbird's creation followed a process similar to the Big Daddies' bonding procedure, as it was engineered to be fiercely protective of its ward.
Songbird's mechanical features are similar to that of the Big Daddy, with color-changing eyes to indicate its mood. Green eyes indicate friendliness toward a person or object of focus, most namely Elizabeth; orange indicates awareness but indifference to Songbird's surroundings; and red represents heavy hostility, chiefly toward 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 in prison, and became the most feared creature in the city. During that time, it was Elizabeth's only company, bringing her such things as books, 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 is intent on 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.
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, whether it is to another part of the city or a different reality of Columbia entirely isn't known. However, the Songbird 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 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 the end of Port Prosperity, 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.
Concept Art and Promotional MaterialsEdit
Behind the ScenesEdit
- Despite original expectations that the Songbird would be a boss character of a nature similar to the Big Sister, it is never actually engaged by Booker at any point in the game. It appears strictly in cutscenes and scripted events.
- 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. It has also been noted by Ken Levine that Songbird and Elizabeth share a similar relationship to the Big Daddies and Little Sisters of Rapture.
- 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 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 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 miniscule.