If you’ve had the frustrating pleasure of playing Rovio’s very popular Angry Birds, the screen-snapping game of physics where birds are flung at thieving (literal) pigs, you’ll know just how mad some birds can get. While the game features a series of nondescript cartoon birds plucked from the imagination of its creators, bird lovers (and anyone who has ever received an ostrich kick) will know that there are some really scary, real-life birds at the Kruger National Park.
3. Torgos tracheliotos – Lappet-faced Vulture
With a weight of up to 14kgs and a wingspan of about 3 meters, the Lappet-faced Vulture is a formidable bird. In addition to being a scavenger, the vulture is an opportunistic predator and will feed on any animal it can subdue. The birds have extremely large, sharp and powerful beaks and are known to attack and kill animals as large as young antelope. That’s right, these birds eat Bambi with no remorse. They have also been reported to prey on flamingo colonies, steal the eggs of other birds and even attack jackals in competition for a carcass.
Like a broke Scrooge Mc Duck, the Lappet-faced Vulture is more grumpy than actually angry. The green Angry Birds pigs would still give him a wide berth though, so we’ll award him 3rd place.
2. Lanius collaris – Common Fiscal Shrike
The mere mention of the name “Lanius Collaris” strikes fear into the hearts of tiny creatures all across South Africa. Invertebrates everywhere scuttle in the shadow of the ruthless winged killer, better known as “The Butcher Bird”. Don’t let the impish size and teapot-stout shape of this tiny madman fool you, the territorial Shrike is known to aggressively defend its nest, chasing away and attacking any trespassers in its territory. That’s not the worst of it. To kill its larger victims, like other birds and their young, the shrike will impale its meal on thorns or barbed wire fences – sometimes storing dozens of recently-deceased animals at one site.
The frightening hunting methods of the Shrike earn him 2nd place in our lineup of angry birds. Pig fatalities would soar if the shrike was flung from the Angry Birds’ catapult.
1. Sagittarius Serpentarius – Secretary Bird
The secretary bird descends from a line of animals called the Phorusrhacidae, also known as ‘terror birds’, a species of carnivorous birds resembling colossal toucans with really bad attitudes that ate the dinosaurs of South America for dinner about 65 million years ago. Retaining a taste for the reptilian, a secretary bird’s dinner consists of the venomous snakes that humans would normally shrink from in fear. To kill that dinner, the secretary bird will stomp on an unsuspecting snake until it is more or less unconscious, if not tenderized. Its 4.4 kg body is no burden for the bird’s powerful legs which, carrying it up to 20km a day at great speeds, have earned the bird the nickname of “devil’s horse”. You’d think a bird this big would have no need to fly, but, actually, their 220 cm wingspan makes secretary birds pretty nimble in flight, once they get off the ground. There were no secretary birds in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller about birds gone berserk, because no one would have lived.
The bad tempered Chuck Norris of the bush earns it first place as the Angriest Bird of all. Green pigs defeated: all the pigs.
Which bird do you think is South Africa’s scariest? Let us know below!