The term early bird is well known. What's a similarly well known thing that is earlier than an early bird?

Edit: the worm, of course! But I'm particularly looking for an improvement on the bird, something that pips the bird to the post.

  • "Up with the chickens" is another phrase, but since chickens are birds I guess that's just a special case of "early bird".
    – JeffSahol
    May 27, 2011 at 17:59
  • Could it be the worm?
    – boehj
    May 28, 2011 at 9:17
  • 1
    A night owl who just doesnt sleep
    – lightsong
    May 29, 2011 at 7:43
  • The early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese...
    – user11752
    Dec 23, 2011 at 16:40

6 Answers 6


Are night owls earlier than early birds?

  • 1
    Actually, they are later than all others. :) We use "owl" for a person who gets up well past midday and goes to bed past midnight.
    – Philoto
    May 27, 2011 at 14:32
  • Night owls are occasionally still up at dawn, but it's not the way to bet. :-) May 27, 2011 at 14:35

I guess that would be the worm, but you don't want to be that guy.

  • Hahaha, yes! Anything else? May 27, 2011 at 14:15
  • I gave you +1, but now I am reconsidering it - the really successful and effective early bird will get up 1) before other birds and 2) (just) before the worms :)
    – Unreason
    May 27, 2011 at 14:16
  • 3
    The early bird gets the worm - but who wants to eat worms?
    – mgb
    May 27, 2011 at 15:21
  • 1
    Thanks to you all I am now picturing a punctual and informed avian predator poised beside a wormhole waiting for its quarry to emerge for its morning wriggle. May 28, 2011 at 4:29

I can't think of an actor (other than the worm :-) ), but we sometimes refer to people as being "up at the crack of dawn", which is probably close to bird-time.

  • 1
    I guess the dawn cracks when it comes up like thunder (outer China 'crost the Bay). May 27, 2011 at 15:50
  • 1
    And of course the real heroes get up at the butt-crack of dawn! May 17, 2012 at 17:02
  • @Callithumpian, thanks for the LL link. I've been hearing the phrase for years, so the poster's surprise in turn surprised me. :-) May 17, 2012 at 17:14

Some one who was "up with the lark" might beat the generic early bird.


After the sparrow awakens but before he sets about the worm-hunting task he must first yawn, stretch, and rub the sleep from his eyes.

But even before all this he involuntarily contibutes to the dictionary:


(I'm not making it up)


Nothing can be earlier than the early bird, because if there were, that guy would get the worm, and the early bird would miss out (and therefore would not actually be the "early bird" at all).

  • I'm not always picky about my breakfast but even when I'm up very early indeed seldom do I choose worms. May 28, 2011 at 4:27
  • @phrenry, Nice answer, very philosophical.
    – Thursagen
    May 28, 2011 at 8:32
  • 3
    What if that guy is, in point of fact, earlier than the early bird, but just doesn't happen to like worms?
    – RegDwigнt
    May 28, 2011 at 11:42

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