Fifteen blue birds land one-by-one on a power line, and soon they encounter a huge and goofy-looking bird. They mimic and tease him, but he goes on the wire, anyway. Since the big bird is heavier than the smaller ones, the wire drops under his weight. To make him let go of the wire, the little birds start pecking on his toes. They successfully get him off, but when the big bird falls off, the birds are flung away into the sky when the wire snaps back up. When they come back down, we see that they have all lost their feathers, making them the goofy-looking ones now. The short ends with the big bird laughing hysterically as the other birds hide behind him.
The first four small birds to land on the power line are named Bully, Chipper, Snob and Neurotic.
Ralph Eggleston had this to say about his inspiration for the short:
- "Probably visits to my aunt when I was a kid. She lived in the country and I spent long rides to her house peering out the car window at birds on a wire. Also, I did a project in my design class at CalArts that my friend, Ken Bruce, told me might make a good film. I boarded it out at CalArts, but frankly, I couldn’t imagine the difficulty of drawing all those birds. Little did I know it would be just as difficult on the computer!"
- There is a boat in Finding Nemo entitled "For the Birds."
- The title of the short is referencing to the idiom of the same name. Meaning being worthless and undesirable.
- The background music in this short, titled "Big High Wire Hop," is performed by Riders in the Sky. It is included in the band's 2002 album, Monsters, Inc. Scream Factory Favorites.
- The small birds on the power line make a cameo appearance in the movie Cars. Unlike many of the other "animals" in the films, the birds aren't car-ified.
- The background is actually just painted.
- This short originally started off as an idea for a student film by Ralph Eggleston but was never made because it would have taken forever to draw all of the birds.
- Concept art for Toy Story 3 showed that a toy version of one of the small birds was going to be one of the toys strapped to the garbage truck that Lotso ended up on.
- The Big Bird resembles either a shoebill or a hammerkop, while Bully and his flock appear to be some sort of waxbill (even having the same squeaks).
- This is Pixar's first attempt at animating both feathers and moving backgrounds.
- At the end of the short, the words "the end" appear to be written on what appears to be bird feces splattered onto a black background. Ironically, bird excrement is actually white, not brown.
- The birds from this short have been reused as brief cameos in Inside Out.