When Birds Attack

When Birds Attack

By : Mike Jerrard

For the most part birds are the ones who are stalked and harassed by binocular carrying bird enthusiasts, but every now and then the birds turn the tables and fight back. They may be literal featherweights but they make up for it with sharp beaks, talons, and many times a tenacity that could rival a Honey Badger.

From our smallest hummingbirds to our most majestic birds of prey, many birds are fully capable of putting up a fierce fight and sometimes that fight is against us humans. Most instances of bird attacks come about from us approaching to close to their nest or young and although most end without actual physical contact, sometimes attacks can be more serious. Birds such as cassowaries, hawks, and owls can leave us bloodied and scarred if we aren’t careful. Just ask a drone who has been brought down by an eagle and it would tell you the pain and power a bird can inflict.

Below are a sampling of birds that have been routinely known to stand their ground and have us wishing we too had wings to make a hasty retreat.

Scroll through the pictures and descriptions below to see a sampling of birds that have been known to attack.

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Australian Magpie
Ask any Australian and most will be able to recall a time they were swooped by a magpie during their breeding season. Some individuals become extremely aggressive and may actually cause injury as they dive for the head region of a passerby. Bicyclists seem to be a favorite target and have even created the necessity of altering bike helmets in order to deter attacks.
Warning signs have even been put up by the government during the breeding season for swooping Australian magpies. Unfortunately many attacks are unavoidable since magpies are very common and love living in close proximity with humans.
Zip-ties are one of many ideas that can be added to bike helmets in order to stop magpies or other birds from making physical contact with people's head. There have been many cases of accidents occurring from being hit by birds while riding.
Masked Lapwing

During nesting season these usually mild mannered birds become extremely aggressive and dive at high speeds upon those who dare intrude on their nesting site. They are also armed with claw like spurs on their wings which may be used during an attack.

Brown Goshawk

Speaking from first hand knowledge, this hawk is quite aggressive when it comes to defending its territory. I have had individuals repeatedly dive me and make physical contact many times. I have had holes torn in my backpack from its sharp talons during swoops. 
Great Horned Owl
This very common owl of the Americas seldom attacks but when it does it can leave quite a mark. There have been accounts of serious injuries caused by the owls when they are defending the nest. I was attacked while forty feet up in a tree photographing young in a nest. Thankfully I escaped with minor scratches.
Parrots (shown: Crimson Rosella)

Parrots may seem beautiful and innocent but they posses very powerful beaks and both wild and domesticated individuals can do a lot of damages to the fingers of humans. I have tried to feed wild rosellas in Australia and had a large chunk bitten out of my index finger which I still hold a scar from. 
Black Vulture

What could a baby bird do to attack you might ask? Well, although they may not pose a risk to inflict pain many can and do vomit when they feel threatened. Their aim is quite good and many have a projectile range that is impressive. This baby Black vulture thankfully didn't have precise aim when it had a go at me for disturbing it. Vultures in general are known for their vomiting defense tactic.
Sandhill Crane

Standing up to four feet tall, these birds are capable of producing quite a scare when they defend their nest. I was wading though the swamps of Florida when a crane landed on my head and repeatedly beat me with its large wings until I left its nest area.
Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo

It's not so much the birds themselves that do the attacking but if you are ever beneath a large group of these cockatoos while they are feeding you need to watch out. A hard hat is literally needed as they dislodge and drop pine cones that can weigh quite a bit.
The sound of loud thuds will have you running for cover quickly.

With all of Australia's dangerous animals, its birds are probably far down on the list as top injury producers. The emu and cassowary however can cause very serious injuries by way of their very powerful feet which are adorned with sharp claws. 
Laughing Kookaburra

You yourself may be safe from this iconic Australian bird, however your lunch may be taken literally right out of your hands. Many birds such as seagulls, crows, and even this Kookaburra can become quite courageous and swoop in to steal a quick meal before you know what hit you. There is an account of an Australian cafe that has at least one meal stolen almost on a daily

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Author: Michael Jerrard

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  1. watch out for the emu’s! LOL they are really fast I hear

    Post a Reply
    • They are quite fast and that is speaking from experience. I may have had to scale a large boulder once in order to escape a very angry Emu. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Thanks for Sharing this article.
    Keep posting

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