Definition of bird colonel in US English:

bird colonel

noun

US
informal
  • A full colonel, as distinguished from a lieutenant colonel.

    • ‘Being young we were standing around laughing, when down the dirt road from the depot maintenance shop came this full bird colonel, with no hat on and the stub of a cigar in his mouth.’
    • ‘The division commander only deals with his four regimental bird colonels, the regimental commander just orders four battalion commanders, the battalion commander has four company commanders to kick around and the company commander just has to handle his four platoon leaders.’
    • ‘Seasoned bird colonels and second lieutenants who knew less than the students they tutored variously served as superintendents.’
    • ‘Surely there are bird colonels and experienced combat leaders in today's Army whom the cadets could look up to and learn from.’
    • ‘There are full bird colonels, majors, captains, and arrogant, pompous wind bags all paid too much and full of themselves.’
    • ‘Cocktail generals and bird colonels need to be leading from the frontlines.’
    • ‘He was the youngest full bird colonel in the history of the army.’
    • ‘Here was a full bird colonel calling a major trying to fix what my pride had helped to break.’
    • ‘And it is not uncommon for anyone to maintain a rank for 8 years, especially at full bird colonel.’
    • ‘Easily over 80 years old, stooped and slow, I barely gave him a second glance because on his heels was a full bird colonel.’
    • ‘And I count my blessings for not taking the advice of my residency director who was a bird colonel in the reserves to join up.’
    • ‘A little more discipline in thought would be appropriate before we castigate the bird colonels and stars.’
    • ‘Never mind the news clips you see of full bird colonels standing around watching Iraqis training, barking ‘Outstanding!’’
    • ‘A peer, on the other hand, who commanded a squad of street cleaners in New York City (hence a public employee), went to Leavenworth and became a bird colonel, and for all I know, maybe a general officer.’

Origin

1940s: with reference to the silver eagle insignia indicating the rank of colonel.