Badass Birds


You might think that big, masculine birds like the Bald Eagle or Great Horned Owl are THE badass birds I'm thinking of.  Yes, they are pretty badass and you'll see many of them here in this blog.  But never discount the smaller birds and how badass they can actually be.  Badass-ness comes in all sizes.

The Pied-billed Grebe is a small diving duck, about 12-15".  Check out this little guy choking down a crawfish.  He could barely fit it in his mouth but he was ruthless, throwing it up in the air and repositioning it several times before finally getting it to fit down his throat.  Did he even think about the dagger on the crawfish?  Didn't even phase him.  Pretty badass, right? 

2020-01-12  Pied-billed Grebe

2020-01-12 Pied-billed Grebe

Saguaro Lake, Arizona

2020-04-21  Great Kiskadee

2020-04-21 Great Kiskadee

Corpus Christi, Texas

Next up:  The Great Kiskadee

The Great Kiskadee is part of the flycatcher family and is found in  extreme southern Texas in the United States and further south in Mexico.  They are approximately 9.5-10".  Watching this Kiskadee swoop down and snatch a lizard was incredible but watching him beat the shit out of the lizard was even more spectacular.  While I'm not a violent person, watching this bird hunt his prey, go in for the kill, and then quickly and relentlessly beat the lizard against the tree trunk for several minutes to make sure he was dead, was truly impressive.  I've watched many UFC fights on TV similar to this.  How badass is that?

2020-04-24  Yellow Warbler

2020-04-24 Yellow Warbler

Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port Aransas, Texas

I've fallen in love with warblers.  How could you not?  They're colorful and beautiful.  Warblers are small, quick songbirds.  They eat fruits and seeds for fuel while migrating but their diet also includes flies, moths, spiders, caterpillar, grubs, ants, worms, and more.  Just as quickly as they catch their food, they gulp it down and move onto their next victim. 

The Yellow Warbler is approximately 5".  They steal the hearts of humans with their bright yellow feathers and their beautiful, soothing songs.  But they need to eat and they need to feed their young.  It's hard for me to capture these busy warblers with their prey but I have one here for you.  Cute and badass -- what a combo that is.

Daggers, daggers and more daggers!

Watching egrets, herons, and cormorants fish is amusing.  

The Reddish Egret dances around the water like she's in a ballet.  Out of nowhere she'll dart quickly from right to left over and over again, stop, and stab a fish with her dagger-like bill.  I'll have to concentrate one day on getting a video of this awesome dance, but in the meantime, I encourage you to find a video online of this dance.  It's crazy fun to watch. 

The Great Blue Heron (GBH) stands still, watches and waits for the fish to come to him.  He uses his dagger to catch fish and may even throw it in the air a few times to perfectly position it to go down the hatch.  The GBH featured here took on a little more than he could handle.  He positioned, repositioned and repositioned again until finally giving up on this meal.  While Mr. GBH took on too much this time, I've watched him several other times quickly and effortlessly catch and eat big fish.

Yet another example of badassery at play here and making up new words as I go.

  • 2019-04-18  Reddish Egret

    2019-04-18 Reddish Egret

    Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, Port Aransas, Texas

  • 2019-11-11  Great Blue Heron

    2019-11-11 Great Blue Heron

    SPI Birding, Nature and Alligator Sanctuary, South Padre Island, Texas

2020-04-21  Northern Mockingbird

2020-04-21 Northern Mockingbird

Corpus Christi, Texas

Let's switch gears for a moment and take a look at the Northern Mockingbird.

The Northern Mockingbird is a large songbird who mimics sounds of other birds.  They are very loud and obnoxious and will even keep you up at night.  But make no mistake -- they are badass birds.  Get anywhere NEAR their nest and heads are rollin'!  We have a pair of very protective Mockingbirds in our backyard.  They don't care what you are -- hawk, songbird, human, cat, dog -- they can and do charge at anyone and anything to protect their nests.  The pair in our yard are outspoken and visible and ready to dive-bomb you, if necessary.  I've watched this behavior every year during breeding season.  In my son's words, this is SAVAGE!

For that reason, this bird is #8 on Crissy Bird's Badass-ness Scale.

2016-05-22  Brown-headed Cowbird

2016-05-22 Brown-headed Cowbird


Now this bird is NOT on Crissy Bird's Badass-ness Scale at all, but you should be aware of their shenanigans.  I'll put these guys on the Crissy Bird's Asshole Scale of 1-10 (created just for them). 

The Brown-headed Cowbird is an asshole, ranking up there around #9.  They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds to feed and raise.  Once the egg hatches and the young cowbird grows, it forces its smaller nestmates out of the nest.  The host bird will continue to feed the cowbird chick (which may be twice its size) until it grows too large to fit in the nest and flies off.

Need I say more?  What an asshole!

Dark and mysterious. They eat the dead!

2020-04-15  Black Vultures and Turkey Vulture
2017-09-16  Turkey Vulture

2017-09-16 Turkey Vulture

Durango, Colorado

But they also clean up the roads.  Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures.  They circle and soar the skies smelling out carrion down below.  They flock together and devour dead animals.  The lack of feathers on their head makes it easy to keep clean while digging deep into dead animals to pull out their innards.  We should all appreciate vultures for their efforts at keeping the earth clean.  It's worth noting that Turkey Vultures do not attack living prey, unlike the Black Vultures who occasionally will kill live mammals.

Ugly but totally badass.  Agree?

2009-10-05 Greater Roadrunner

2009-10-05 Greater Roadrunner

Buckeye, Arizona

2017-01-29  Greater Roadrunner

2017-01-29 Greater Roadrunner

Goodyear, Arizona

Beep! Beep!

You guessed it.  The next one up is the Greater Roadrunner.

The beautiful and great Greater Roadrunner.  This silly and playful cartoon character isn't who you think he is.  I was so excited when I had one in the yard for the first time.  I'm still excited to see them but I've learned some of their dirty little secrets.  This badass bird will not only eat snakes and lizards but he also stalks and preys on baby quail, small songbirds and even hummingbirds.  You have to admire though that they mate for life and will viciously defend their nest.  At least he doesn't lay eggs in the nest of others like the cowbird.

He is badass, yes, but also an asshole.  Give it up to the Greater Roadrunner to make it onto 2 lists.  He's lucky I find him beautiful.

Talons and beaks that'll tear you apart.

Eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls.  The truest badass birds of the kingdom.  They are all fierce and tough. They have amazing eyesight, hearing and are precise at going in for the kill. 

And so, they all get ranked at #10 on Crissy Bird's Badass-ness Scale.  Enjoy these featured badass birds.

  • 2019-12-07  Northern Harrier

    2019-12-07 Northern Harrier

    Whitewater Draw, McNeal, Arizona

  • 2020-02-16  American Kestrel

    2020-02-16 American Kestrel

    Goose Lake (Five Mile Landing), Topock, Arizona

  • 2019-12-01  Osprey

    2019-12-01 Osprey

    Famosa Slough, San Diego, California

  • 2019-11-10  Crested Caracara

    2019-11-10 Crested Caracara

    Los Fresnos, Texas

  • 2019-11-10  American Kestrel

    2019-11-10 American Kestrel

    Los Fresnos, Texas

  • 2020-01-20  Bald Eagle

    2020-01-20 Bald Eagle

    Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio, New Mexico

  • 2020-01-12  Long-eared Owl

    2020-01-12 Long-eared Owl

    Saguaro Lake, Arizona

  • 2019-10-27  Northern Harrier

    2019-10-27 Northern Harrier

    Tres Rios Wetlands, Tolleson, Arizona

  • 2019-01-12  Peregrine Falcon

    2019-01-12 Peregrine Falcon

    Glendale Recharge Ponds, Glendale, Arizona

  • 2006-01-28 Snowy Owl

    2006-01-28 Snowy Owl

    Tuscola County, Michigan

  • 2019-11-11  Harris's Hawk

    2019-11-11 Harris's Hawk

    Los Fresnos, Texas

  • 2019-10-12  Red-tailed Hawk

    2019-10-12 Red-tailed Hawk

    Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, Prescott, Arizona

I hope I was able to put a little badass-ness into your day.

There is also a Crissy Bird's Badass Birders Scale

and a Crissy Bird's Asshole Birders Scale,

but that's for another blog.

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Untitled photo

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