The birds seem to come in at conveniently contemplative moments. When the old man is talking to them, we get the feeling he’s really talking about someone else – himself. He says of one bird that he won’t catch a fish, because the fish are "too big for him and they go too fast." Sounds a lot like doubts he might have about himself. When he’s feeling worn-out, he chastises a bird for being tired. "What are birds coming to?" he wonders, which could just as easily be read as, "What am I coming to?"