One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

why does mcmurphy refer to the patients as birds? what might birds symbolize?

in part one

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McMurphy symbolizes a man from the outside world. He uses slang constantly emphasizing his autonomy from the institution. While the other inmates have dated language McMurphy calls the patients "birds" and refers to prostitutes as "twitches". McMurphy's language, like himself, is animated and lively which sets him apart from the other patients.