The "red, dead bird" in the James Hurst short story, "The Scarlet Ibis," does indeed symbolize the frailty of Doodle, the beautiful but imperfect child whose life is also suddenly cut short. Like the ibis, which has traveled a great distance only to discover that he is lost in a strange land, Doodle is also a misplaced youth who has lived longer and covered more ground than anyone could have imagined. But there are other symbols in the story.
Hurst places the ibis in the appropriately named "bleeding tree." It is from here that the bird tumbles and dies. The only person that thought Doodle would live was--also aptly named--Aunt Nicey, who likened him to Jesus. The hurricane which brought the ibis also symbolizes a bad omen, as do the black storm clouds which cause the final rains.
The sun disappeared and darkness descended, almost like night.
The early darkness symbolizes the approach of death.
Doodle was too fragile to keep running like he was and it was wrong of his brother to leave him like that. But another symbol is the "bleeding tree" that's where the Ibis dies and that is where Doodle dies. I thnk that I knew when the bird showed up that Doodle was going to die because no bird just shows up and dies I knew that somebody was going to die so I thought it would be Doodle