The Scariest Types of Birds in the World

Voting Rules
Vote up the most terrifying species of bird you hope to never encounter in the wild.

Most people don't look at the different types of birds and think of them as dangerous. If they don't run into a pigeon, most folks don't interact with birds unless they are broken up, fried, and found in a bucket. That doesn't mean there aren't some dangerous birds out there more than capable of attacking and even killing humans. These creatures did evolve from dinosaurs after all, and while many are small and little to no threat, it's okay to fear birds—given they could swoop down and poo in your hair at any moment.

Aerial poop bombardment aside, many people are afraid of birds for a wide variety of reasons. Some are just more ugly than scary, and that stirs a primal fear response. Other, more beautiful birds are simply nasty in disposition and they won't stop before they peck your eyes out! Granted, that's not likely to happen, but you don't want to cross some of the scariest bird species out there.

Believe it or not, bird attacks on humans aren't rare, whether that's due to getting too close to their nest, perceiving us as a threat, or simply because they felt like seeing what your guts look like. Whatever their reason for attacking, it's best to let them be and enjoy watching them from a distance. Never forget... dinosaurs. They came from dinosaurs!

  • Size: Southern Cassowary's can grow to a large height of nearly 6 feet, weighing in at upwards of 154 lbs.

    Location: Indonesia, New Guinea, and Northeastern Australia

    Distinguishing Features: Their bodies are almost entirely black with a bright blue neck and head. They have incredibly strong talons on their three-toed feet with strong legs.

    Why You Should Be Scared: While these birds are rather large, your biggest fear from them isn't being snapped at with their sharp beak; it's being slashed apart by their lethal dagger-like claws on their inner toes—which can reach a length of 4.7 inches. Cassowaries have been known to kill a human when threatened.

    • Scientific Name: Casuarius
    418 votes
  • 2
    354 VOTES


    Size: Ostriches are the largest living species of birds, reaching a height of 6'7'' and a weight of up to 254 lbs.

    Location: Various areas of sub-Saharan Africa

    Distinguishing Features: Their most distinguishing features are probably their legs, which are incredibly powerful. An adult ostrich can run up to 43 mph, making it the fastest bird on land. Ostriches have feathered wings, but they are not capable of achieving flight due to their comparatively small size and the bird's overall weight.

    Why You Should Be Scared: Ostriches can become aggressive if threatened and they have been known to bite people who bother them. That's not the biggest concern when facing an ostrich, but rather their incredibly strong legs, which have large claws at the end of their toes. They can kick with deadly precision and even disembowel an adult human with their powerful feet.

  • 3
    323 VOTES

    Size: They have the largest wingspan of any living bird with a length of approximately 12-13.3 feet. The birds typically weigh in at around 20 lbs., making them relatively large birds.

    Location: Sub-Saharan Africa in both wet and arid habitats.

    Distinguishing Features: It has red and black splotches on its sparsely-feathered head. Its body consists of bluish-grey feathers with a white underbelly. They also have a large, distinctive air pouch that hangs below the throat.

    Why You Should Be Scared: These birds are large and look unpleasant. It doesn't help that they practice something called urohydrosis, which means they poop all over their legs to regulate their body temperature. They are strong and could cause a great deal of damage to a person should they decide to attack with their long, powerful beak, but the biggest threat to people revolves around their horrid stench.

    • Scientific Name: Leptoptilos crumeniferus
    323 votes
  • 4
    308 VOTES

    Size: the Emu is the largest native bird to Australia reaching a height of up to 6.3 feet.

    Location: Most regions of Eastern, Central, and Western Australia

    Distinguishing Features: Their size and inability to achieve flight sometimes leads people to confuse them with their African counterpart, the Ostrich. Similar to the Ostrich, they can achieve a sprint of up to 31 mph making them incredibly fast and powerful birds.

    Why You Should Be Scared: Emus are incredibly powerful strong birds and just like Ostriches, they possess strong legs tipped with long talons. They are typically wary of humans due to them correctly identifying us as predators, but when threatened, they can become aggressive and lash out with their powerful claws.

    • Scientific Name: Dromaius novaehollandiae
    308 votes
  • 5
    265 VOTES

    Size: They can reach a length of up to 49 inches with a rather impressive wingspan of up to 9.3 feet.

    Location: South Central Asia, parts of Southern Europe, the Middle East and Western Africa

    Distinguishing Features: The Lammergeier is commonly known as the Bearded Vulture due to the fluffed out plumage along the base of its neck, which looks somewhat like a beard.

    Why You Should Be Scared: As a species of vulture, they typically only feed on carrion with a preference for subsisting almost entirely on bone. They don't often attack other animals, but have been known to snatch small mammals, which they kill with their strong talons and beak. They don't represent a threat to adults, but there have been anecdotal reports of Lammergeiers snatching small children.

    • Scientific Name: Gypaetus barbatus
    265 votes
  • 6
    314 VOTES

    Size: Swans can get fairly large, reaching lengths of up to 67 inches with a wingspan reaching 94 inches. They typically weigh in around 23 lbs, but can reach up to 51 lbs in rare cases.

    Location: North America and Europe

    Distinguishing Features: Swans are noted for their elegantly shaped neck and white plumage. This is the bird representing the attractive end-result of the Ugly Duckling after all.

    Why You Should Be Scared: Swans are beautiful animals, but ask anyone who has had a run in with one and they will tell you they are particularly mean birds. Swans can be highly aggressive, often chasing and biting people who wander too close to them. They may seem beautiful, which lulls people into a false sense of security around them, but they should be avoided—unless you want to get bitten by a fairly large and angry bird.

    • Scientific Name: Cygnus
    314 votes