The Angriest Bird of All

WHO IS THE ANGRIEST BIRD OF ALL?

Who is the angriest bird of all? If you had to guess, I bet you’d think of birds with a reputation for meanness. An ostrich can kill a lion with their mighty kick. Or perhaps the cassowaries of Australia & New Zealand come to mind. They’ve actually killed humans with slashing blows from their feet. One of their toes has a long dagger! Talk about aggressive bird behavior!

I’m sure that the cheery American Robin didn’t pop into your head as the angriest bird of all.

Aggressive bird behavior _ Robin
I run deep!

I came across a recent twitter thread which suggested the sixth photo in one’s camera roll would be the cause of their death. My sixth photo was the one on the far right:

I bet you thought my sixth photo would be one of Louie! Okay, he was fifth and seventh, but not sixth! 

Louie is not an angry bird
I should be the sixth photo in everyone's camera roll
Robin parent on high alert
This was my sixth photo.

A 3-ounce bird would cause my death? Kidding aside, I found this spooky because a pair of Turdus migratorius, aka American robins decided to build a nest three feet from our deck. (Which is the reason I had the photo in the first place!)

Those pretty orange-red breasted birds turned into pint-sized grizzly bears the moment their babies hatched!

Make Sense of Science_ Subscribe for Cool Facts to Blow Your Mind
No way!

AGGRESSIVE BIRD BEHAVIOR

Birds that nest near people often end up harassing their landlords
This implies that they pay rent, which they most certainly do not.
These backyard birds also harass domestic animals and other birds.
They are not good neighbors.
PROTECT ME!
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PICTURES OF BACKYARD BIRDS LIKELY TO EXHIBIT AGGRESSIVE BIRD BEHAVIOR TO PROTECT THEIR YOUNG

What other behavior would they exhibit if not bird behavior?

Onward to the most likely aggressors in your backyard...
NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD
CARDINAL
GREY CATBIRD
BLUE JAY
HOUSE SPARROW
AMERICAN ROBIN
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AGGRESSIVE BIRD BEHAVIOR

Some form of parental behavior is present in virtually all ~ 9,000 living species of birds.

From territory defense, nest building, incubation of the eggs, brooding the young, feeding the young, escorting the young to food sites, protecting the young from predators, and feeding of the female by the male prior to egg laying and during incubation.
Click Here

Why are these birds so aggressive? 

 

Fledgling Baby Robin_Make Sense of Science
Fledgling Baby Robin
Fledglings_ Make Sense of Science
Fledgling Baby Owls

The birds are protecting their babies!

Maybe we ought to reframe this aggressive bird behavior.

Pictures of common backyard birds_Lessie
Good idea!

PREDATORS OF AVIAN SONGBIRD EGGS

Main predators of songbird eggs ....
For more info click here
SNAKES
No surprise there.
SLY SQUIRRELS
CRAFTY CROWS
I would never harm a songbird.
BLUE JAYS
This surprised me
WHAT?
Deer eat bird eggs and nestlings!
From ground nests but I had to include this fact because it also surprised me!
COWBIRDS
Click Here
Cowbirds destroy the eggs and young of songbirds & have been implicated in the decline of several endangered species
Click Here
Cowbirds don't eat eggs. They lay their eggs in the nests of over 220 bird species!
Cowbird eggs hatch faster than other species eggs, giving cowbird nestlings a head start in getting food from the parents.
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No wonder my robin parents acted like the angriest birds of all! 

WHO IS THE TOUGHEST BIRD?

The pair of robin parents that took over my yard for two weeks, that’s who!

The Angriest Bird of All
3 gorgeous blue eggs. For more on the rarity of blue in nature, click on the photo!

I spent a lot of time sitting on the toilet seat so I could take these pics through the window and not ruffle the birds’ feathers. (Literally)

Okay, that’s a bad visual but the seat was down.

How many nestlings do you see on the right?

Nestlings and egg american robin
We started with 3 eggs so I assumed this was 2 babies and an egg...

Pipping is the process by which the chick initially breaks through the shell, using a hard projection on its bill called the egg tooth.

ROBIN FACTS_PIPPING_Last baby..or babies fighting out of the egg
Go baby, go!

FOUR babies! We had TWINS!

 

It is difficult to see…

Who is the toughest bird_4 robin nestlings day 2 for 3 day one for last baby
TWINS!

Day 3! Nestlings are easier to see now.

Robin Facts_4 nestlings day 3
Nestlings x 4!

Between signaling their aggressive intent the second I walked out the patio door via birdsong, & feeding these hungry nestlings 150 times/day, I imagine the robin parents were exhausted.

Both parents fed the babies non-stop from sunrise to dusk.

I admired their tenacity and drive. Their attitudes towards me? Not so much.

Pinfeathers starting on the nestlings
Hungry nestlings

Forgive the video quality below…remember that I took this through the bathroom window! 

Our nestlings were growing! This is at six days.

Pictures of common backyard birds Day six pinfeathers on four babies
Getting more crowded every day.

THE ANGRIEST BIRD OF ALL HELPS OTHER SPECIES!

Because our robin parents were model parents and achieved the title,  ‘toughest bird of all’, predators stayed away. This, imho, allowed these guys living under the nest time to grow! 

How many caterpillars do you see on the butterfly weed?

 

 

Monarchs are mythical and mysterious_caterpillars on butterfly weed
Find all the caterpillars!
The Angriest Bird of All prtoected more than just their babies
To read about my adventures raising monarchs, click on the photo!
Beautiful female Monarch courtesy angry robins
I'm a beauty

HUMANS AND THE ECOSYSTEM

Maybe you're wondering why I spent all that time in the bathroom taking photos?

Human intrusion, even by experienced researchers, causes an increase in avian nest predation

Click Here

Repeated Human Intrusion Increases the Potential for Nest Predation!

Human intrusion on avian nests causes increase in predators
Click here for one study

A FEW ROBIN FACTS

Caring for youngsters usually requires around 13 days in the nest.
Each baby robin may eat its weight in insects, worms and berries in a day.
The father robin looks after the babies for a week or more after they leave the nest.
Dad and babies eat & sleep together while mom builds a new nest.
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This is day 8-9. The nest is getting crowded.

These babies have their first coat of feathers and look like birds! Fledglings!

ROBIN FACTS_ FLEDGLINGS 8 and 9 days old
Officially fledglings!

I was outside at the time. You have never heard a bigger ruckus from the parents! I was fairly sure the robin parents were going to attack! 

 

Reproving that a robin parent is the angriest bird of all.

Photos of common backyard birds_First Fledgling
First brave soul to leave the nest. They only went about five feet.
Providing cover for fledglings_FLowers directly under nest
You can just make out the edge of the nest in the top middle. Lots of cover for baby # 1 to hang out until they're ready to try again.

I missed # 2 and #3 leave the nest so I tried to keep a close eye on this last baby.

Robin Facts_Last Baby # 4 has a lot of room now_
Last fledgling

The next morning, baby # 4 flew almost 30 feet! Their parents went bonkers, chirping and swooping and hovering nearby. 

Aggressive bird behavior extraordinaire. 

Baby Robin # 4 first flight_shell shocked
They look a little shocked!
Who is the toughest bird? A mama bird! ! 4 beautiful robins are out in the world
SUCCESS!

NOT JUST THE ANGRIEST BIRD BUT THE CLEANEST!

LOOK AT HOW CLEAN THAT NEST IS!
Baby songbirds can't wear diapers, but their poop emerges encased in a mucus sac.
Whichever parent is feeding the baby at the time, takes the poop and carries it off.
A clean nest does not alert predators!
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WHO IS THE TOUGHEST BIRD?

I have to admit a sense of relief when the angry robins vacated. 10 days with mama on her eggs, then another two weeks of aggressive bird behavior until they left for good.

Being the angriest bird of all paid off! All four fledglings made it! 

Three of the four caterpillars emerged into lovely butterflies.

Louie why are you in the bathroom watching those robins so much
And we can go outside again!

Too bad, cassowaries! Robins take the prize.

Robin facts dress up like a bird
The guy on the left knew what he was doing! He wanted to be the toughest, so he dressed up as a robin!

Have you ever been lucky enough to observe nature from your bathroom window? Or perhaps somewhere a little more convenient?

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54 thoughts on “The Angriest Bird of All”

  1. I love your baby bird photos! You’re so lucky to have the birds build a nest where you could watch them develop. Thanks for sharing your cool pics. And the fun facts.

    Reply
  2. Having large talons doesn’t always mean you’re the angriest bird, it just means they can mess you up if you provoke them. The angriest birds I’ve seen are on documentaries and tiny, and as was the case with you, it’s as a result of protecting their offspring or eggs

    Reply
    • Excellent point and exactly the one I was making here! Parents are the angriest birds! Looking at smaller birds; hummingbirds are ferocious at feeders. In fact, it’s recommended to put up four separate feeders in different locales as opposed to a four-opening feeder, to reduce aggression and stress. I’m fortunate to have a well-established hummingbird garden, but conditions can vary so feeders are a great option. Thanks!

      Reply
  3. I’d love to be able to watch birds nest building nearby but there’s nowhere really suitable. I do try to make the garden as bird friendly as possible though. Interesting topic, I really enjoyed reading this post.

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  4. Is Batman less intimidating than his sidekick? Although, in my experience, Blue Jays are more aggressive even when they don’t have babies.

    Reply
  5. Gotta say it – I love all your posts but this one might be the funniest one so far. I was laughing out loud. And I love the pictures and all the research you always put into your posts. Amazingly good.

    Reply
    • Ouch! That qualifies in the aggressive behavior column. One time, a horse that didn’t want to be saddled, nipped me in the butt. I’m sure if he’d wanted to bite me, he could have done far worse! I suspect the gander bite hurt more! Thanks, Amy.

      Reply
  6. I love this post, I learned so much. Robins, who knew, well you did. 🙂 But I didn’t know about the deer either, sneaky deer. Your website is fascinating, well done for all the hard work that goes into it.

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  7. I loved reading all about Robins here. I did not know most of the information you shared! This was such an interesting post.

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  8. I’d like to add another angry bird: the tree swallow. For several years they came to our birdhouse to nest. We were thrilled – they are gorgeous birds and eat tons of skeeters and things. Well, they were fussy and excitable when they were building the nest, but when the eggs were laid, and then hatched, look out! They actually dive bombed our heads! And not just when we walked near the box, but when we came out the front door. True, they always just missed, and never once grazed us (I guess it would have harmed them, too, to make that kind of contact) but let me tell you, it was unsettling, to say the least. They fly like little jet airplanes! It was worth it, though, for the joy of hearing and seeing the nestlings, and the flying lessons, and the innocent trusting baby that would drop at my feet and say hello. Thanks for another great and funny post!

    Reply
    • Funny you should mention tree swallows. When we lived in MI and my husband would mow the lawn, when he got anywhere near their nest, they would dive bomb him, too. Our kids would sit at the window and watch and we’d talk about it! They never ventured in that part of our yard. The tree swallow tactics worked! I better add tree swallows to my list. Thanks, Marian! Great point!

      Reply
  9. Agree that it’s birds protecting their eggs/young that are the angriest no matter how small they are. My dad was once attacked by a bird protecting their nest which he was unaware he was so close too. It was a small bird as I recall and sent a grown man running!

    Reply
  10. It must have been an experience to be so close and live these days near the baby birds. I never had the chance to observe something similar from such a close distance. Loved the photos that accompanied the story 🙂

    Reply
  11. There are many people who live the angry bird mentality on a daily basis. Come to NYC and you will see a number of angry birds walking around. But birds in general are natural protectors of their off springs babies as many other animals. The same can be said for people are always angry and exercise agression. What are they protecting? What are the reasons for their anger? Great post!

    Reply
    • Oh wow! Another robin aggressor! I suspect there must have been a nest nearby. Did she send you to the mailbox after that? HA! Watching the robins in action was quite an experience. I’m happy that I’m able to share it! Thanks so much.

      Reply
  12. Such a highly entertaining post – and I learned a lot! Yes we have the wild kingdom in our backyard as well featuring several bird species, skunks, squirrels and raccoons. I have a lovely photo of 5 raccoon kits arranged in a pyramid formation which I captured a few years ago. Cute at this age, but a costly nuisance when older (new roof, wire to ensure that can no longer rip apart my eavestroughs). Thanks for sharing thiis!

    Reply
    • Wow, a wild kingdom with adorable mammals! I’d love to see your photo of the kits. Unfortunately, raccoons can do some damage, as you know better than most. Good luck managing your menagerie! Thanks.

      Reply
  13. Oo! These little guys and gals are so, so sweet! We hatch our own chicks and nothing is more heart melting than fluffy fledglings and chicks; I am constantly amazed at how fast they grow. Catbirds are our aggressors, living all over our yard and what racket they make!
    Thanks for sharing an engaging story. 🙂

    Reply
  14. How fun to be able to watch the progression of the nesting and hatching behaviors! I had just learned the term pipping while watching the Atypical series on Netflix (main character was fascinated with penguins). Our family has encountered angry birds before – redwing blackbirds divebombing my brothers when their fishing boat got too close to a nesting area on a lake, and a male turkey knocking down my toddler cousin on a farm & standing on him!

    Reply
    • It was fun to observe the robins. Interact with them? Not so much! Wow, the turkey knocked your cousin down? What happened to your cousin after the turkey pinned him? When our oldest son was a toddler, he too, was chased by an angry male turkey. I headed the turkey off before the bird got too close. Angry bird parents are no joke!

      Reply
  15. I absolutely loved reading this! A robin built a nest on top of one of the wreaths outside my front door a couple of years ago, so seeing all of this reminded me of them! It’s such a beautiful thing to witness up close! The parents were definitely were not happy when someone got too close to their nest! Thank you for sharing this! Beautiful photos too 🙂

    Reply
    • A nest literally on your front door? That must have caused issues when you had visitors or deliveries! Yet worth any inconvenience for the fun of watching the growing robin family! I’m pleased that you were able to revisit your experience through my post. Thanks so much!

      Reply
      • It was on the wall right next to the door and the mailbox! The front porch is a small area with a wall on one side and tall bushes on the other, so anyone coming in or out had to be careful! There were times the bird parents got pretty upset if someone was there but thankfully there wasn’t any actual attacks like I have read others say in their experience with them. Like you said, it was worth any little inconvenience to see them up close like that!

        Reply
        • The mailbox? Those poor birds must have been unhappy, not to mention the mail carrier! I bet the robins didn’t choose that spot for their next brood! At least you had the fun of seeing the babies grow!

          Reply
  16. Lovely pic of yours in the last. Great pics you took of nature. Naa no chance of taking pics from bathroom. Great topic as always. I was going to joke on Twitter the other day…. the angriest bird is “the angry bird”. Lol, was too tired to even write that? And woah to the bird killing humans with their feet. I can’t forget the birds movie. They are vicious sometimes. Great one as always Sue. 💙💙
    Isa A. Blogger
    https://www.lifestyleprism.com/

    Reply

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