One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous movies, The Birds, came out in 1963. As the movie went on, it made you think about what would happen if groups of birds, which are usually just out of sight, attacked a small California seaside town. The movie was based on a true story about an attack on Capitola, California, in 1961 by sooty shearwaters. Diatoms were found in the anchovies that the birds ate and made them sick. The shearwaters flew into buildings and died. Their bodies were found in the streets and all over town.
Once in a while, movies come out like The Birds (1963) or The Happening (2008) that explore the idea that nature could suddenly turn mean. But the idea that angry birds could hurt or kill people is not made up. Territoriality and protecting young from predators are still very important, and birds of all sizes will fight back when they feel threatened. The birds on this list are some of the most dangerous in the world.
6 Most Dangerous Birds In The World
There is only one species in the family Casuariidae. It is in the order Casuariiformes, which also has the emu. Some experts say there are six species, but there are only three. Each species has several races that live in different parts of Australia and New Guinea. The cassowary has a long nail on the inside of each of its three toes that looks like a knife and has been known to kill people with it. People have seen the bird running quickly along tight paths in the bush, going as fast as 31 miles per hour (50 km/h).
There are times when cassowaries attack people because they are interested, but this doesn’t happen very often. When attacks do happen, they usually involve asking people for food. One of the most recent cases happened in Queensland, Australia, in 2012. A cassowary kicked a tourist off a ledge and into water, but the tourist was not hurt in any other way. In 1926, a cassowary jumped on one of a group of teenage boys who were hunting them and killed him. This was one of the most famous attacks and the only one known to have been proven to have killed someone. The bird’s long toenail cut the boy’s jugular vein.
Ostrich (Struthio camelus)
Ostriches are birds that can’t fly and only live in open land in Africa. When they are fully grown, adult males can be up to 2.75 meters (9 feet) tall, with the neck making up almost half of that height. They weigh over 150 kilos (330 pounds). Depending on the time of year, ostriches can be seen alone, in pairs, in small groups, or in big groups. The ostrich depends on its strong legs—which are one of a kind because the main toe has developed almost like a hoof—to get away from its enemies, which are mostly people and larger animals that eat meat. When it’s scared, an ostrich can run as fast as 72.5 km/h (45 miles/h).
If it feels squished, it can kick very hard and kill lions and other big animals. Kicks and cuts rarely kill, and most attacks happen because people make the birds angry.The American musician Johnny Cash had an exotic animal park on his land with ostriches. This is one of the most interesting stories about an ostrich attack. During his walks in the woods in 1981, Cash ran into a male ostrich that was very mean to him more than once.One time, Cash pulled out a 6-foot stick and swung it at the bird. The bird dodged the swing and hit Cash in the foot.Pay attention, Cash. The blow hit him in the gut. He said that the ostrich’s toe claw would have killed him if not for a strong belt buckle.
Emu (Dromaius [or Dromiceius] novaehollandiae)
The common emu is the only species left alive after several other types were killed by invaders. It has a thick body and long legs, like its related species the cassowary. Emus can run away at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, or about 50 km/h. If they get caught, they kick with their big, three-toed feet. Like those of cassowaries and ostriches, an emu’s toe claws can kill other animals if the conditions are right. However, humans are very rarely killed by them. A lot of people have been hurt by emus in Australia and in zoos, wild animal parks, and emu farms around the world. In 2009 alone, more than 100 attacks were reported.
Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus)
Lammergeiers, which are also known as bearded vultures, are large vultures from the Old World that look like eagles. They belong to the family Accipitridae. These birds can grow to be more than 1 meter (40 inches) long and have wings that spread out wide. They live in hilly areas from Central Asia and eastern Africa to Spain. They eat dead animals, especially bones, which they drop from up to 80 meters (260 feet) onto flat rocks below.
This breaks the bones of the body open so the birds can get to the marrow. Attacks on humans are rare or only happen in stories. However, the Greek playwright Aeschylus is said to have died at Gela (on the south coast of Sicily) when a lammergeier put a tortoise on his bald head and hit it with it. Aeschylus did die at Gela, but experts think that the story about the strange way he died was made up by a later comic writer.
Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)
All types of owls have been known to attack people to protect their young, their mates, or their territory. Runners and walkers who aren’t paying attention are common targets. Owl attacks rarely end in death, and most people who are attacked get away without getting hurt. Some of the most well-known strikes have been on great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) and barred owls (Strix varia).
In 2012, several people in a park near Seattle said they were attacked by a great horned owl that flew down from the woods. In 2015, a great horned owl attacked a jogger in Salem, Oregon, by flying and hitting him on the head several times. The victim ran away. Great horned owls are strong hunters that can get more than 2 feet (60 cm) long and have wingspans that are close to 200 cm (80 inches). The Americas are home to these owls. They eat small animals and birds, but they have been known to take bigger food. Their claws can grip with up to 500 psi of force, which is about the same as a big guard dog’s bite and is strong enough to permanently scar, blind, or kill. When they fight bigger animals, great horned owls and most other owl species focus on the face and head.
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Barred owls are found in the eastern United States and parts of Canada. They’re smaller than great horned owls, with a wingspan of about 110 cm (43 inches) and weighing between 630 and 800 grams (1.4 to 1.8 pounds). Surprisingly, these owls have been known to attack people, from Texas to British Columbia.
In a curious case in North Carolina, a barred owl was implicated in a murder mystery. A man was convicted in 2003 for killing his second wife with a hearth blow poke. However, in 2011, forensic evidence about the murder weapon was dismissed by a judge. It was suggested that the victim’s death might have been caused by a barred owl attack instead. According to the defense, the victim, under the influence of painkillers and alcohol, was attacked by a barred owl in her yard. The owl scratched and pecked at her until she managed to flee into her house. Unfortunately, she fell down the stairs and broke her neck, leading to her death. Despite later admissions by the suspect, he was not found guilty in 2017.
The world is home to some fascinating yet potentially dangerous birds. From the powerful Cassowary with its lethal toe claws to the swift and formidable Ostrich, these avian creatures command respect and caution. Emus and Lammergeiers, though less known, can still inflict harm if provoked. Even the majestic Great Horned Owl and the smaller Barred Owl have been known to attack humans in certain circumstances.
The case of the Barred Owl in North Carolina, implicated in a murder mystery, serves as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of wildlife interactions. As we marvel at the diversity and beauty of birds, it’s essential to approach them with care and understanding, recognizing their instinctual behaviors and potential risks. Through awareness and respect, we can coexist harmoniously with these remarkable creatures while minimizing conflicts and ensuring our safety.