Nature re-establishes the pecking order.
"Birds [...] are the last of the dinosaurs. Tiny velociraptors with wings. Devouring defenseless wiggly things and, and nuts, and fish, and, and other birds. They get the early worms. And have you ever watched a chicken eat? They may look innocent, but birds are, well, they're vicious."
Everybody knows that birds are some of the least scary animals ever, right? After all, they're small, they're pretty, they sing, they have sharp claws and pointy beaks
, they fly around in huge flocks
, they hang out in battlefields and pick the flesh off of the corpses
Monstrous birds aren't that ridiculous, if you think about it. After all, they're the dinosaurs that survived
. As mentioned above, even the cutest birds have pointy beaks and claws, and some birds (such as starlings) fly in flocks of thousands, making them seem like hordes of avian locusts
. Many of them are voracious predators, and airborne to boot - just imagine if they were big enough
to swoop down on humans
and carry them off. (It might be worth noting that the extinct Haast's eagle
could have occasionally preyed on humans, although it wouldn't have been able to carry them. The giant teratorn
could theoretically have carried off a person weighing up to approximately 95 kg/200 lbs, had humans actually been around when it was alive.) One should not forget the TERROR BIRDS
, that once roamed (and likely terrorized) the earth.
can be divided into four catagories:
- Always Chaotic Evil. Crows, ravens and vultures are almost always portrayed as creepy (if not outright evil) due to their association with death. Owls also tend to fit this bill when they're not being the wise old owl because of their nocturnal habits, historical association with witchcraft, and fondness for eating cute animals. Other raptors tend to get a more flattering portrayal due to the fact that they're birds of prey although they occasionally fit the role of bad guys in cases of Carnivores Are Mean.
- Zerg Rush. Smaller birds that attack people in huge flocks. These ones are especially fond of pecking people's eyes out, and sometimes overlap with Type A.
- Monster Bird. Usually a Giant Flyer (preferably a raptor) that carries people off in its talons for dinner. Flightless terror birds◊ are also popular in prehistoric and Lost World settings. And a Kidnapping Bird of Prey like an eagle, condor or vulture will - against all laws of physics- pick up a small dog or child and fly it to their nest.
- Parodies and Subversions. Much like other cute and seemingly harmless animals, some birds are portrayed as evil or dangerous to subvert common expectations. Killer chickens and villainous ducks are probably the most popular variation. When this one is played completely straight, it frequently results in Narm.
Note that this is Truth in Television
, as some birds such as cassowaries and swans can be surprisingly vicious
and even outright dangerous
, while others can be indirectly dangerous by carrying diseases like bird flu and psittacosis. (To say nothing of extinct killer avians like the aforementioned Haast's eagles and terror birds, or dino-birds like Deinonychus
See also Giant Flyer
, Killer Rabbit
, Swans A Swimming
, and Morally Ambiguous Ducktorate
. Compare with Bat out of Hell
and Reptiles Are Abhorrent
. Ominous Owl
is a subtrope. Related to Giant Flyer
. Possibly one of the reasons why Everything's Better with Penguins
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Anime & Manga
- Wolfs Rain: While looking for a way out of the Forest of Death, the wolves get freaked out by a creepy talking owl that might be a ghost. One of its cryptic pronouncements does does turn out to be a clue to the escape route, though.
- Confirmed. After the gang discover the bones stripped bare by the bugs, if you watch the next shot of the owl you can see the trees through it as it flies away.
- The evil Raven from Princess Tutu, and to an extent his daughter Princess Kraehe (Crow), and the flock of carrion birds that are associated with them.
- The first episode of Pokémon had a rock throwing incident lead to Ash and Pikachu being chased by a flock of Spearow (whose Japanese name means "demon sparrow").
- The same Spearow returns at the end of that season, evolved and looking for payback...
- Also, the Taillow, which are also very aggressive if their food sources are threatened. Furthermore, they are able to resist electric attacks (which should be super effective against them) by sheer willpower.
- Even Pidgey, which is said to be mild mannered, can generate winds strong enough to blow a ten-year-old into the sky.
- All Murkrows in the series are a species of Jerkasses as their hat. Pun not intended.
- Avirama Redder
- In Chrono Crusade, Aion first appears by channeling his voice through his familiar—a bald eagle with glowing red eyes. Probably meant to be creepily symbolic, considering Aion constantly cites his motivations as "freedom".
- Dio Brando's pet falcon Pet Shop is just as sadistic as his master, and even has a Stand (Horus, appropriately enough). He's even capable of flashing a Psychotic Smirk, which even Team Pet Iggy notes is impossible.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie First, The Phoenix Monster of the Week from the original series was replaced with a more demonic monster bird, with horns protruding from its body, claws on its wings, and a jagged beak with tusk-like extensions. Alas, while more fearsome-looking, it lasted as long as the phoenix did.
- Most Bird-type Digimon are heroic or neutral, but the massive Ultimate-level Parrotmon is definitely a fiend, especially in the first movie.
- Noise, the real Big Bad from Suite Pretty Cure ♪ is a giant black bird with a dragon head and dragon tail. He's able to brainwash people with the Noise of Evil, controlling all other villains. After absorbing Trio the Minor, he gets a humanoid form, but he's still a Feathered Fiend.
- The Sandman:
- While Matthew is a friendly corvid, the rooks in "A Parliament Of Rooks" are a bit nastier.
- The Cuckoo from "A Game of You" is an avian psychic parasite with Blue and Orange Morality.
- The Sidri in the X-Men comic book also fit this variant of the trope.
- Footrot Flats has a turkey as a regular enemy of The Dog, and a goose as a regular enemy of Wal. At one point, they switched foes.
- If Gaston Lagaffe's seagull is in a bad mood, the whole office runs for cover. "HIHIHIHIHIHIHAAAAARRRRR" works the same as an air-raid siren.
- Savage Dragon features a villain named Powerhouse who is an avatar of a nature-god. He looks like a humanoid chicken but despite his ridiculous appearance, the hero of the series soon finds that he is a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
- Skroa from Les Légendaires is a litteral example of this: his now extincted specie, the Galina, were bird-like demons.
- The Howlibird from The Smurfs is a mutated variety of Type C that came from Papa Smurf's failed plant growth experiment that didn't get properly disposed of.
- In one episode of Suske en Wiske, Wiske manages to befriend a cassowary, who then saves her from bandits a couple of times by pulling them into a Big Ball of Violence. Even the super strong Jerom respects it: "Always good to have strong friends. Can also be a birdy."
- A Growing Affection has the Shadow Roc, a giant demon bird large enough that all nine Bijuu could fit on its wings, but still not quite as powerful as the One-Tails. It's still a pretty nasty piece of work, brokering a deal with Orochimaru to Mind Screw its six-year old host so it can take over her body.
- Discussed in RWBY Recaps, a fan analysis of RWBY:
In hindsight, I’m not shocked all of CRDL are dicks. Their names are all based on birds and stuff. Birds suck, man. Spring soon here in Australia and that means swooping magpies. Birds succcccccck. Addendum: Shoutout to Rustic_Ghost who sent me a solidarity ask in this matter, affirming that magpies do indeed suck.
Films — Animated
- Lord Shen, the Big Bad of Kung Fu Panda 2, is a villainous peacock with the blood of apparently the Panda species on his feathers, making him a Type D. However, he is largely no joke in battle considering he is genuinely threatening with his blades when he fights hand to hand.
- Nigel from Rio.
- The crow mounts ridden by Mandrake and his warriors in Epic.
- While the hero of Don Bluth's Rock-A-Doodle is an avian Elvis Expy, the villains are Always Chaotic Evil owls.
- Screweyes, the villain from We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, is accompanied by a murder of crows. Which devour him alive at the end of the film.
- The Secret Of NIMH: The owl is a downplayed example. The mouse protagonist is naturally terrified of him and we come to find out that he isn't actually evil, although he's still creepy.
- A Bug's Life had Grotesque Cute goldfinches. Which, from the point of view of a bug are probably the equivalent of Godzilla.
- And Disney's Atlantis The Lost Empire had Pyreflies. "These guys are kinda cute when they aren't setting off a big fiery ball of death!"
- Will Arnett voices a mercenary vulture in Horton Hears a Who!. He's the only real bird in the show, but then again he's being paid off by a kangaroo.
- The seagulls from Finding Nemo. "Mine! Mine!"
- The main villain of Valiant is a German pigeon-intercepting falcon voiced by Tim Curry.
- The first act of Rango involved the titular chameleon attempting to protect a Western town called Dirt from a giant hawk (Dirt's inhabitants are all animals, most of which are the hawk's prey).
- Puss in Boots features a giant goose known as the Great Terror. It's fairly calm, but if you steal her golden egg-laying gooselings you'll learn why they call it that way...
- Quest for Camelot has Bladebeak, the result of Ruber demonstrating the weapon-merging potion with an axe and a rooster. He's ultimately a Minion with an F in Evil, however.
Films — Live-Action
- In Elfstruck, the soldier rides a terror bird.
- H. G. Wells wrote a short short called Aepyornis Island, where the titular bird is quite a nasty beastie. The real Aepyornis was herbivorous, but since their still living cousins like the cassowary are among the most lethal birds alive...
- Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Also a case of Creepy Ravens.
- HP Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness has giant blind albino penguins.
- Whippoorwills often appear in Lovecraft's stories as omens of impending doom. They don't actually do much, but you know something ugly is about to go down when a bunch of whippoorwills decide to perch near your house in Lovecraft Country.
- The Chimes of Death from the Sword of Truth series, AKA the infamous "Chicken That Was Not A Chicken". Aims for Type A by being a demon that takes the form of a seemingly-ordinary chicken, but regarded by many readers as an unintentional example of Type D.
- The birdwoman from Anansi Boys (quote featured above) serves as a secondary antagonist, using birds to attack Fat Charlie and Spider.
- There's a children's book called "SQUAAAAWK" in which, if you open a magical book, you allow the Roc magically bound inside to get out and terrorize your town.
- The later Animorphs books have several instances of flocks of homicidal bird-morphed controllers attacking the protagonists.
- And the natural version: Tobias hates crows because they mob hawks. And eagles—a group made Rachel slam into a tree and lose her memory.
- In Redwall, birds are generally on the side of good, if often wild and untamed. There are exceptions, however—an army of rooks led by a raven attacks Redwall in Mattimeo and St. Ninian's is home to vicious jackdaws in Pearls of Lutra. And, of course, there's the heron of Martin the Warrior, the Warden. "I am the law!" * GULP*
- Swans are (somewhat justifiably) treated as giant monsters in one book, where the heroes trick some henchmen into getting close to a swan's nest. Death ensues.
- The Old Kingdom Trilogy has flocks of Gore Crows, evil and dangerous in large numbers (especially when in a Paperwing); a flock of crows animated by a single Dead spirit.
- The War Against the Chtorr. Shambler trees are host to over thirty different types of carnivorous tenants that swarm in their thousands when they sense the vibrations of nearby prey.
- The enormous flocks of sparrows of Stephen King's The Dark Half. "Evil" might be putting it a bit strong, since their ultimate purpose is to put the main character's Evil Twin back where he belongs; then again, "creepy" might not do them justice.
- Pigeons From Hell
- Mind you, the pigeons are a harbinger of evil rather than the actual monsters of the story— not unlike the whipporwills in Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror.
- The vicious birdlike Shryke race in The Edge Chronicles.
- In Dragaera, the issola is a sort of crane-like which appears really elegant and graceful, but is also a very competent hunter. This is noted as a metaphor for how the House of Issola has the hat of politeness and grace, but you shouldn't think they are pushovers.
- His Dark Materials has the tualapi, white swan like birds that are flightless but use their wings as sails...and are carnivorous. Perhaps a subversion however, since they may not actually be birds, but organisms that evolved to resemble them, since they belong to a world were vertebrates aren't the dominant animals, and their wings are positioned one in front of the other instead of alongside each other.
- Some of the Dark One's servants in The Wheel of Time can use crows as spies and messengers, and occasionally use huge flocks of crows to attack people. Crows are regularly included in scenes to give the impression that characters are being watched.
- In Robert E. Howard's "A Witch Shall Be Born", Conan the Barbarian is crucified, but the villain carefully explains that the vultures will kill him first.
- Both played straight and averted in Lord of the Rings; while crows are viewed as an ill omen, and a malicious variety called "crebain" serve Saruman as spies and messengers, ravens are noted to be dwarf-friends. And the Eagles are downright Always Lawful Good.
- In the Warrior Cats series, ordinary birds of prey such as hawks, eagles, and owls. Justified, since they're cats, after all, and the birds are very large to them - large enough to carry off a kit, or, with an eagle at least, a full-grown cat.
- The Pure Ones, St. Aggie's owls and hagsfiends of Guardians of Ga'Hoole.
- A flock of giant killer hornbills, of all things, appears in the South Seas Treasure Game from Dream Park. Presumably the Lopezes were going for the unexpected when they chose them as a threat.
- A pair of lovers in the forest are devoured alive by a flock of little birds, in the Philip Mac Donald short story, "Our Feathered Friends" (1931).
- One of P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories features Bertie and another man getting trapped on the roof an island gazebo by a highly territorial swan.
- Inverted in The Twits . Roly-Poly Bird and the other birds are instrumental to the escape of the monkey family and the turning of the Twits upside down.
- While Walking With Beasts focused mostly on prehistoric mammals, the horse-munching Gastornis in the first episode was one of the scariest animals on the show. Although a bit of Badass Decay occurs when its unhatched chick is eaten by giant ants. Also of note are the Phorusrhacos in another episode, though they don't present any real threat to the Smilodon we're following. Because nothing - except climate change and the giant ground sloth Megatherium - present much threat to a Smilodon.
- In an episode of MythBusters, when Adam is placing his hand in a pen of baby ducks, Jamie joked "Don't be fooled, these are actually quite deadly."
- In the Suite Life on Deck episode "Mean Chicks", Cody deprives a seagull of a french fry Zack attempted to feed it, and spends the rest of the episode trying to escape the bird's wrath.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor", a Provençal village is being menaced by what, when we finally get a look at it, appears to be a giant cross between a chicken and a parrot. From outer space.
- The titular character of The Avengers episode "The Winged Avenger". A cartoonist who disguises himself as his own bird of prey-like comic superhero and lacerates Corrupt Corporate Executives to death, using magnetized boots to climb walls.
- The Tales from the Crypt episode "Carrion Death" has the protagonist, a con attempting to escape through the desert, being stalked by a hungry vulture who eventually makes a meal out of him... while he's still alive.
- One Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy from Saturday Night Live says:
- I think the international symbol for peace should be the pillow. It has as many feathers as a dove but without that vicious beak.
- The third season Halloween episode of That '70s Show featured a parody of The Birds.
- The Ego Likeness song Aviary does not paint a particularly friendly picture of birds.
- The video of Bingo Players' "Get Up (Rattle)" shows ducks attacking some teenage hooligans.
- The March of the Sinister Ducks by Bauhaus feat. Alan Moore is either a particularly drug-laden straight version or a strange parody. Considering the bulk of Moore's work, anything's possible.
Myth And Legend
- While vampires were later associated with wolves and bats, Roman legends portray them as shapeshifting, blood-drinking owls. Several East European words for "vampire" (strigoi, shtriga, strzyga) are derived from "strix", the Latin word for "screech owl."
- Vampire: The Requiem uses them with the strix, spirits that take the form of owls who brought down the Roman Empire (and with it, the largest body of vampiric government in history) because of an ancient betrayal. They can possess humans as well as sleeping vampires, and the clan books hint they're returning for some reason...
- Harpies, which are usually portrayed as vulture-like.
- Sirens also originally were depicted as birdlike rather than mermaid-like.
- Quite few other mix-and-match mythical monsters are at least part bird, although whether or not they're scary of evil tends to vary.
- One of Hercules's tasks was to kill the Stymphalian birds, which had sharp, metallic feathers and a taste for human flesh.
- Cockatrices were said to have been born of the egg of a rooster and incubated by a toad or snake. A lizard-like bird (or vice versa), it has the power to turn people into stone with its gaze.
- Traditional folklore concerning basilisks is almost identical, with the exception that unlike the cockatrice, they are wingless (most of the time anyway).
- They also can't be safely killed, as its blood is so corrosive and poisonous that it kills its slayer, no exceptions.
- Averted (mostly) in Norse Mythology with Odin's two ravens, Huginn and Munnin.
- Do you know that stereotypical image of hundreds of hapless slaves being dragged up an Aztec pyramid to have their hearts torn out? That was the festival of the Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli, the Left-Handed Hummingbird.
- The thunderbird of Native American mythology.
- The boobrie from Scottish folklore was a monstrous, shapeshifting water bird that was large enough to kill and eat sheep.
- Tengu from Japanese Mythology, although their ferociousness varies between interpretations. Earlier accounts portrayed them as malevolent, prideful ghosts that opposed Buddhism: they abducted their victims and dropped them off in remote areas, and were also capable of Demonic Possession. Over time, they were instead seen as fierce protectors of Buddhism and nature.
- The Kroot of Warhammer 40,000, while not feathered anymore, are a sentient humanoid race descended from avians. They have a mane of quills instead of hair or feathers, but retain their ancestors' slender yet powerful build, language of clicks and whistles, sharp vision, and beaks. The Kroot are notable for consuming the flesh of defeated enemies in search of specific evolutionary upgrades - in the 41st millenium you get eaten by chickens.
- The Black planeswalkers of Magic: The Gathering have a fairly decent selection of Type A birds, from buzzards to vultures.
- Dungeons & Dragons has a few avian monsters (including the infamous owlbear) as well as kenku, a race of nasty bird people.
- There are also the often overlooked Blood Hawks, who go all the way back to the earliest editions. They look like ordinary hawks with gray feathers... who feast on the flesh of people. As players expect the monsters of the game to be much larger, weird looking, or possessing amazing magical powers, their plain appearance and otherwise ordinary nature makes them rather unsettling in their own way.
- In Gamma World, there are a few including the Gallus Gallus, chickens that were being bred for meat, but after the apocalypse the computer breeding them screwed up and now they're sentient and humanoid. There's also the Carrin, cruel psychic vulture people with nasty quills.
- Speaking of nasty bird poeple, the word "Blackwings" comes to mind.
- Mortasheen has several, although, they are usually quite odd.
- And don't forget the RAPECROW!!! (Alright, it's called Depraven, but the idea is there).
- GURPS Technomancer, of course, has the magic-using penguin socialist collective of Antarctica, transformed by a Hellstorm into a vicious hivemind that has driven human scientists from the continent and is building up for the next clash.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Corax, wereravens. While not evil as a rule and actually relatively pleasant compared to the title lycanthropes, they still have a very disturbing half-human, half-raven war form. It's made all the worse by the fact that they know how gross they look in this form so if they are forced to use it they are usually very, very angry.
- Pigeon: Impossible stars a rather...persistent pigeon who demands a CIA agent's bagel, and in doing so nearly causes a nuclear holocaust.
- In Worm, one of the Endbringers (three gigantic, incredibly powerful, seemingly invincible creatures that appear to be on a mission to destroy humanity) is a fifteen-foot-tall bird-woman with multiple wings called the Simurgh. She is described as the most intelligent, subtle and manipulative of the Endbringers, with a variety of Psychic Powers that she uses to trick people into eventually ruining their own lives as well as the lives of everyone around them.
- Peter Griffin from Family Guy occasionally gets into epic battles with a giant chicken.
- The Batman: The Animated Series version of the Penguin had a collection of deadly birds ranging from poison-billed hummingbirds to trained attack-cassowaries.
- Buzz Buzzard from the Woody Woodpecker cartoons was usually shown as genuinley evil and sinister, as opposed to Woody who was just an obnoxious Screwy Squirrel type.
- Count Duckula began as a show-biz addicted ditz on Danger Mouse before becoming an actual villain. He became Flanderized on his own show (a hapless show-biz addicted vegetarian) and had to deal with a common foe, vampire hunter Dr. Von Goosewing. Duckula's manservant, Igor, may count as sinister as he prods Duckula into being the evil bloodsucker he was intended to be.
- In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, there is the Evil Genius parrot, Professor Pericles.
- Laserbeak and Buzzsaw from Transformers.
- Averted with Yankee Doodle Pigeon, the hero of Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.
- Modern swans are already viciously aggressive. (If one comes towards you hissing, back off.) Imagine facing their giant extinct cousins.
- Roosters have spurs on their legs. Roosters are apparently territorial. There is a reason why Cockfighting used to be so common. Sometimes their natural spurs would replaced with razors.
- The vampire finch (Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis) is known for pecking at other birds and giant tortoises until it draws blood, and then drinking it.
- You know oxpeckers, those cute little birds that perch on animals in Africa and do useful things like eat their hosts' parasites? What they're actually after is blood. They mostly get it from the ticks they eat off their hosts, but sometimes they try to get it from the hosts themselves.
- The shrike: it looks like your average songbird, but it impales rather large prey (lizards, rodents) on spikes.
- It wears a black mask. Don't say you haven't been warned.
- Geese can be very vicious if their brood is threatened. They're sometimes used to guard other poultry from predators.
- A lot of birds are very protective of their nests. While their protective instinct is entirely understandable, getting swooped at by alternately furious and desperate parents and helpers for walking near the wrong tree is alarming.
- Seagulls are likable when it's not the nesting season. When it is, seagulls turn into divebombing feathered fiends from hell.
- The aptly named terror birds took over the role of giant bipedal predators in the Cenozoic, long after non-bird dinosaurs were extinct.
- The Cassowary, native to Australia and New Guinea is a large ostrich like bird. The avian equivalent of a Bear, a Cassowary is dangerous for all the same reasons. They've killed people on more than one occasion. They are extremely territorial and agressive (even more so when it's a Father Cassowary with chicks because it's actually the males that care for and protect the eggs and chicks). Their back legs kick with enough force to colaspe a human rib cage, or crush a human skull, and has a dinosaurian killing claw on the end. Their omnivorous diet means they love to go into human residental areas and eat trash, because it's loaded with the rotting fruit, bugs, and small mammals it loves to eat. Unfortunately, this means they're more likely to encounter humans, and attack them for invading what they consider to be "their" territory. They've also been known to kill dingos, crocodiles, and even horses and cattle that get to close.
- Steamer ducks. They attack and kill other waterfowl for no clear reason.
- Great tits prey on hibernating bats by ripping their heads off. These birds are definitely not just seed and insect eaters.
- They fight viciously amongst themselves, too.
- In hard winters, they're also known to have attacked other small birds, cracked their skulls, and eaten the brains. Brains are fatty and therefore energy-rich, as well as soft and easy to eat without a raptor's beak - but it's still creepy.
- Whether or not they count as birds is up to you, but the predatory dromaeosaurids and caenagnathoid oviraptorosaurs definitely bore bona fide feathers. Among the dromaeosaurids were Deinonychus and Velociraptor, but the largest of them was Utahraptor, which was at least the size of a grizzly bear. Grizzly-bear sized raptors. That might have hunted in packs. The largest oviraptorid was Gigantoraptor, which was almost nine meters long and weighed over a ton, comparable to some tyrannosaurids like Albertosaurus. It would have been the largest feathered fiend known to science if you only count dinosaurs with pennaceous feathers. If you throw protofeathers into the equation things get much more complicated.
- They were also very tenacious when defending their nests (which was probably done by the males, by the way). It appears that they would even try to shield their eggs from a sandstorm, as many oviraptorid fossils are found crouching over their nests.
- There's this new theory about how dromaeosaurids went about "preparing" their prey: They used their sickle claws to pin their prey down while flapping their wings for balance. Now put yourself in the prey's shoes: You're lying on your back with raptor claws hooked in your skin, and huge wings flapping in your face, while a raptor eats your guts out. The point is... you are alive when they start to eat you.
- If you count protofeathers (primitive hair-like feathers), the amount of Fiends grows even higher (and it includes TYRANNOSAURS
- An ostrich once nearly killed Johnny Cash by gutting him with a kick (he was running a farm of them at the time).
- There are stories - unconfirmed - of massive eagles carrying off dogs and even in one case a small child (who survived, was found in the mountains miles from where she disappeared, and is the source of the story). There are verified accounts of eagles killing deer and young cattle. (Not carrying off, but killing, certainly.) Eagles also appear to have preyed on the young of early hominids (e.g.: our ancestors). In fact, the Haast's eagle from New Zealand was probably large enough to kill humans in recent times. It died out when its main food source (moa, large flightless birds) got exterminated.
- African Crowned Eagles have been known to launch predatory attacks on children (Up to seven years old!). Also, skulls of human infants have been found in African Crowned Eagle nests. This is also the same species of eagle that killed our hominid ancestors as mentioned by the troper above, and because of their fiercesness and fondness for primate meat they are known as the "leopards of the air" by certain African peoples.
- Bearded vultures have been known to try and drive large mammmals (including humans) off the edges of cliffs, and black vultures will sometimes swarm young livestock and medium-sized mammals such as skunks and kill them. Keeping in mind that these are "scavenging" vultures, not typical predatory birds of prey such as eagles...
- Some vultures can be pretty fiendish when merely acting in self-defense, because they barf caustic, half-digested rotten meat at would-be attackers.
- Argentavis magnificens is the largest flying bird ever to exist. Its wingspan may have been as much as thirty feet! A bird like that could definitely carry a child off.
- While hummingbirds are largely harmless to humans, they're viciously territorial, due to the fact that they need to eat so much to keep flying. If a hummingbird isn't eating, it's probably fighting. The Aztec example above may have been the result of good observation.
- Old world cuckoos and brood parasites in general. Imagine this scenario: you're a mother bird, getting ready to fly home with food for your baby. You perch on your nest and the baby calls to you for food. While you feed it, you realize something disturbing. There is something wrong. There is something wrong with the baby. You don't know why and you don't know how but there is one thing you DO know. Whatever is in the nest, begging you for food, is NOT your baby. And if the bird wises up and refuses to feed the baby Cuckoo, the parents or relatives will appear and beat them into submission (in what's called the Cuckoo Mafia Theory, seriously), forcing it into slavery to care for the baby.