Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Original Angry Birds

I may not have an iPhone, iPad, or iAnything, but thanks to the generosity (or pity) of Google, I was finally able to get in on the Angry Bird craze.  I may be late, but at least now I'm in with the cool kids. While playing the game, I often wonder where the inspiration for the game came from. When would birds normally get so angry that they would attack pigs?  Are the green pigs a tribute to Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham?  Well, I may not have the answers to those questions, but I think I just may have an idea where the real-life inspiration for some of the angry birds came from.
The first bird that introduces us to the game of Angry Birds is good ol' red.  He initiates the attack against the greedy green pigs, seemingly coming out of no where with his aerial attack.  The inspiration for red must have come from the Northern mockingbird.
Want to read about a study that found Northern mockingbirds can recognize humans that disturb their nests?
Check it out here.

These guys have a reputation for dive bombing anything that comes too close to their nests, whether it be animal or human.  Mockingbirds may not be able to knock over small wooden structures, but they certainly can make anyone duck and cover.
The buckshot-like attack of the blue bird trio teaches us that there is power in numbers. In the real avian world, there are many birds that subscribe to this train of thought through mobbing.  Mobbing is when one or more birds ceaselessly harass a predator (who is often much larger than themselves) through dive bombing, raucous calling, and close pursuit. One of the birds that I think does the best job of mobbing and thereby might be the inspiration for the blue barrage is the American crow.  
Nothing clues me to the presence of a red-tailed hawk or great-horned owl like a large band of crows making an absolute commotion in a nearby tree. And if the raptor tries to get away from the attack? The whole crow flock will follow close behind, cawing and calling all the while.

Yellow is the next in the line of the avian arsenal, who specializes in an attack with a sudden burst of powerful speed. In real life, it's the peregrine falcon that possesses this kind of raw power. When hunting its prey, mostly small to medium-sized birds, the peregrine uses a powerful divebomb called a stoop to stun or sometimes even kill its prey. 
Being clocked at over 200 miles per hour while in a stoop, the peregrine is the fastest land animal in the world. Peregrines are also known to use their stoop for defending their nests, just like our yellow triangular bird friend. Far more impressive though is the ability of the peregrine to take predators as large as bald and golden eagles through a powerful blow to the head.
Can't say that I have yet found a bird that explodes upon contact. Moving on.

For some reason, the white bird strikes me as somewhat disturbing.  I think it has something to do with the deflated shape he takes after dropping his egg bomb, or the pathetic sounds he makes when bouncing off objects as he comes crashing down.  Although no real bird uses their own eggs in defense of well...their own eggs, there are most certainly those who drop a bomb of a different kind. The fieldfare, a European/Asian relative of our American robin, takes mobbing to the next level by bombing predators with its own poop.
I'd be willing to bet that if the white bird of Angry Birds employed this technique, that the pigs would go "aiee! aiee! aiee!" all the way home.

Spring will soon be here, and with it will come nesting birds. Be sure to steer clear of any nearby nests you may notice, or else you may just suffer the wrath of some real life Angry Birds!

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