Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Juliana. Juliana Wonders, “Are angry birds real?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Juliana!
If you've ever used a slingshot to launch wingless birds at pigs, then you've probably played the popular video game Angry Birds. We're sure that many of our Wonder Friends around the world have spent many hours playing this addictive game.
But do birds really get angry?
We could find no research to support a longstanding animosity between birds and pigs. However, birds can and do get angry, especially if you threaten their nests.
If you get too close to a bird's nest, you may be seen as a predator. In that case, prepare to come face to face with an angry bird!
Birds will go to great lengths to protect their nests and their young (babies). For example, mockingbirds, despite their small size, have been known to aggressively confront anything they see as a predator, including hawks, cats, dogs and even people.
Other species known to attack predators they believe to be threatening their nests include kingbirds, blue jays and arctic terns. Sometimes these birds can peck so hard that they draw blood! In Australia, magpies are famous for attacking people — called "swooping" — who get too close to their nests.
If you're ever in a park and see a Canadian goose leading a line of goslings, don't get too close. If you do, you're likely to hear a hissing sound as a warning. Continue to approach and you might find yourself being chased away by an angry mother or father goose!
Birds get angry and fight for reasons other than simply protecting their nests. Sometimes birds fight to protect a general territory rather than a specific nest.
When food is scarce, birds become more territorial and won't hesitate to fight other birds that threaten their food supply. For example, in the spring, you may notice cardinals and robins attacking their reflections in the windows of your house.
These birds see themselves, but they think they see other birds threatening their territory. These attacks on your windows may continue until you take action, so don't hesitate to tap on the window to urge the birds to move on.
Birds also occasionally fight to prove their dominance over other birds or to win the affection of a potential mate. Male house sparrows, for example, have a reputation for fighting for dominance.
Within flocks of house sparrows, there's a definite pecking order. Male house sparrows have black “bibs" on their chests. The larger the bib is, the more dominant the bird will be. Birds with similar bibs tend to fight each other.