Thanks for your comments, guys.
As regards New Frontiers, Xeris
, to be honest, I haven't read any of the series. I like and respect Peter David as a writer--although I think his best work is with either television scripts or in the graphic novel/serial format than straight prose. Also, I've steered clear of New Frontiers
because I didn't want my interpretation of Shelby to be influenced by his.
The answer as to what the bird is lies in the description of what happens after the crystalline outer shell melts away. Remember, it first became an amorphous amber fluid like substance that then took the shape of an avian, or, as Wesley described it, a shapeshifter
...now, who else do we know does that?
As to who the aliens are--well--you'll just have to wait and see...although I will say that you have seen them on Trek at one time or another...
To clarify--you've seen aliens like them
at one time or another on Trek--however, I've added my own spin...