The Nalio were prelingual & had sort of feather-like structures, so of course the initial assessment team called them bird-brains. The name stuck, unfortunately carrying the mindset that the old idiom had carried with it into Newglish.
The Secondary Assessment Team, in turn, treated the Nalio as barely more than animals (despite warnings in the manuals about doing so with any species); the 1st colonists (carefully placed in an area where the Nalio hadn't proliferated) did the same.
This lasted until a farmer left his dwelling to see a Nalio step out from a nearby house, pick up a hoe, and begin farming the land that had been meant for the next wave of colonists.
The Nalio, as it turned out, were clever mimics and even cleverer tool-users. They'd figured out door-handles and light-switches in record time, hoes and seeds almost as quickly. Any house left empty for more than a day found itself quickly occupied by a Nalio family or brooding parents.
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