I see and hear this over and over again, and I have not the slightest idea where it comes from.
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From The Phrase Finder
Phrase Finder says that the root source of this expression probably is biblical, from Ecclesiastes; see Barrie England's answer, above.
(The phrase "feathered or otherwise" seems odd. I thought all birds, by definition, had feathers.)
The first thing that came to my mind were Odin's ravens, Thought and Memory who "brought information to Odin".
On Wiktionary, they make reference to the same Bible phrase AND a connection to Norse mythology.
According to 'Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable', from Ecclesiastes x. 20: