If you've ever seen Hitchcock's classic film The Birds, you know that birds can be absolutely terrifying. There are some horrific birds that are just frightening by nature, and there are some scary bird characteristics that apply to multiple species. There are birds that kill people, birds that drink blood, and even birds that projectile vomit stomach acid when threatened. Some of them are quite dangerous. The shoebill, for example, decapitates its prey, and the cassowary is an actual threat to humans. If you're one of those folks who hates birds, your fear may actually be somewhat justified.
But that's not to say that these facts are things that will make you hate birds; some of their characteristics are actually quite cool. There are adaptations that keep birds alive in inhospitable environments as well as behavioral quirks that make birds quite humorous.
So, whether you're looking for facts about birds that are scary, or just downright terrifying species of birds, you've come to the right place. Vote up the facts about birds that are disturbing or just plain terrifying: it's no wonder Hitchcock picked birds as the creep-inducing creature for his horror film.
The cuckoo is strange and diabolical enough in that it actually lays its eggs in another bird's nest so that its chick will be fed by the other mother bird, growing bigger and faster while the other chicks in the nest slowly die. However, the greater honeyguide takes it a step further: its chick is born in another bird's nest just like the cuckoo, but the honeyguide has a much shorter game plan in mind.
These chicks are born with a specialized beak sporting spikes at the tip. When the baby honeyguide finds other babies in the nest, it goes about systematically and violently killing them with this specialized beak. It stabs, chews, shakes, and does not stop until the victim stops moving. It will kill all the other chicks in the nest within an hour. Later, the baby's hook simply falls off the beak, its purpose served. In short, this baby bird is adapted perfectly to kill other chicks.
There are a few birds out there that are somewhat carnivorous, but few are as creepy as the vampire finch. These small birds live in the Galápagos, and feed in large part on the blood of other animals, including threatened blue-footed boobies. They peck at other birds until they bleed, and then they drink the blood as it flows. Weirdly enough, the blue-footed boobies don't seem to mind much, though we're not sure why. Other similar finches prefer to pick parasites off of other animals for nutrients, but the vampire finch has evolved to pecking past just the skin.
As an added creepy factor, it's also been shown that once a finch finds a victim they enjoy, they will actually return to the same animal multiple times to continue to feed. So, if a vampire finch decides you taste good, it'll be coming back for seconds.
There is often a comparison drawn between birds and dinosaurs, and perhaps no creature embodies a modern-day dinosaur better than a cassowary. These Australian birds are brightly colored and have bony-looking heads in addition to massive clawed feet. In some cases, a cassowary's kick has broken bones, killed dogs, or just ripped into human flesh. But in 1926, the unthinkable happened. Philip and Granville McLean, a pair of teenage brothers, came across a cassowary and their dog attacked it. Granville was gravely injured, and as Philip tried to run away he fell. The bird attacked him, severing an artery in his neck with its feet. The boy bled to death quickly.
Luckily, cassowaries are unlikely to attack you unless you mess with them. Research has shown that the vast majority of attacks were caused because humans provoked the birds, tried to hurt them, or offered them food. In other words, leave them alone, and they won't kick-stab you in the neck.
Where to even start with crows? These birds are amazing and creepy in just about every way. When one crow has wronged the group, the rest of the murder may hold court over the perpetrator. Crows have also been known to peck out human eyes, because they are shiny. But perhaps most frightening is that crows are highly intelligent, hold a grudge, and are not afraid to let others know that you're a terrible person.
Research has shown that crows recognize human faces and remember them, as well as what areas are associated with them. Thus, if you're mean to a crow, it will remember you and what you did. On top of that, it will tell other crows that you're a nasty person! Research shows that crows did not need reminders that an individual had wronged them, and that over time, other crows who associated with that crow would become violent or afraid towards the individual offender as well. This even happened with crows' offspring, meaning that crows can hold grudges for generations.