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A few woods, most notably maple but also anigre and a few others, can exist with large numbers of small round "defects" that do indeed resemble the eyes of birds. The density of the eyes ranges from sparse to dense, and the definition of "dense" frequently depends on the greed and honesty of a seller, so this is not a good figure to buy sight unseen. A good, truely dense, bird's eye maple board can make a spectacular addition to a project; it is very popular for jewlery boxes.

When cut into veneers, the logs are most often rotary cut or half-round sliced (in an arc) to produce the most uniform distribution of nice round eyes.

There are a few woods that are sold as "bird's eye" with a density of eye figure so low as to make the term a joke. Zebrawood in particular comes to mind for his. I have seen zebrawood veneer sheets that re sold as "bird's eye" due to having literally 8 to 10 eyes in an area of 5 or 6 square feet.


bird's eye maple plank

anigre veneer --- this is typical of the weak bird's eye figure in anigre; the green color of the 2nd sheet is totally incorrect.

cherry veneer --- cherry has a respectable bird's eye figure, but weak compared to maple's.

maple planks --- the first two are quite respectable density and the last one shows the kind of sparse bird'e eye figure that honest vendors will describe as "sparse" or "weak" and some vendors will describe as "dense". I belive the orange color of the first plank is incorrect.

maple veneer with moderately dense eyes

American black walnut with birds eye figure --- very rare

maple veneer with very sparse eyes

prima vera veneer with weak/sparse eyes

zebrawood --- the joke of the "bird's eye" figure woods; you can see the bird's eyes in these sheets can't you? Come on now ... can't you ??? Pretend that salesman's leaning over your shoulder with a gun in his hand and I guess you might be able to pick out a few. Sadly, otherwise seemingly honest dealers advertise this stuff.

Queensland maple --- note that this Australian wood is NOT actually a maple but it can develop a strong bird's eye figure