Just to reenforce this aspect of my personality: I dont like birds.

Yes, they are pretty, as long as they are ‘over there’ and arent all up in my face about being birds. I mean, Im not all up in their face screaming “IM A HUMAN”, rite?

Anyway, I think birds instinctively know that I dont like them.

Arnie and I go on the same walkie route 1-3 times a day. Every Spring, there is one god damned bird… one god damned bird that gets all bitchy about his nest or chicks or something, and freaks the hell out whenever anyone (but especially me and Arnie) get too close to his nest. And by ‘too close’, I mean ‘within 5 miles of his nest’.

Arnie and I will just be minding our own business… and then we hear it…

WWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

Homeboy starts dive-bombing me and Arnie.

It does not matter how drastically we change our walkie route, we will be running along…

WWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

One day, when we were being attacked, one of my professors was getting out of his car. All he sees is me screaming and laughing and running and Arnies tail tucked between his legs. I holler at his puzzled look “THERES A BIRD ATTACKING US!” Cue another dive-bomb:

WWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

Professor: “HOLY CRAP!”

Me running: “ITS OKAY, HE DOES THIS ALL THE TIME.”

:-/

Well, there isnt a whole hell of a lot of anything in Antarctica except for birds.

The penguins were pretty cool.
Cute and harmless (THOUGH NOT ALWAYS! FOR REALSIES!)

But I did have the pleasure of meeting the most terrifying creature I have ever encountered.

… The skua.

This is a skua.**

IM A SKUA! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

These guys look like birds on steroids, even when they are just hanging out. And while they eat penguin eggs, I got the distinct impression that they would not mind feasting on my juicy, juicy eyeballs. These things would just hover, like, two feet away from your head. And then theyd fly off for a sec… only to come back with a buddy. Or four.

Me: Oh god… oh dammit…
Skua: IM A SKUA!
Me: (not making eye contact) I dont have anything you want!
Skua: IM A SKUA!!
Three more skuas: SKUAHHHHH!
Me: THE SKUAS ON THE LAST LANDING TOOK ALL MY CASH! Here! Take my watch! And my sunglasses! My credit cards are on the boat, I swear! Just leave me alone!
Skuas: SKUAAAAHHHH!!!
Me: AAAAAAAHHH!!!!

This is the last thing you see before you are blinded for life.

Terrifying birds.

*shudder*

On the bright side, I didnt have to take their ‘affection’ personally. The goddamn pic of an Antarctic skua on wikipedia is a skua clearly about to kill the very photographer taking the shot:Im assuming his widow uploaded the image.

But apparently when these guys get to the Galapagos, another even larger, more assholier bird picks on the skuas. Perhaps there is divine justice after all.

** I didnt get any good pics of the skuas, as they stole my camera and pawned it at Port Lockroy. These images are from a new friend of mine who is a professional photographer in the CT area. Email me for his dox if you need a photographer!

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    January 18, 2011

    Hint: Birds do not like Louisville Sluggers.
    Also,do not like the KFC Colonel.

  2. #2 HP
    January 18, 2011

    A couple of years ago we had a nesting pair of red-tail hawks outside the building where I work. Needless to say, they took a great interest in any humans who happened to walking through the parking lot.

    One day, I was walking through the lot and I hear, from maybe thirty yards away, “I’M A HAWK!”

    I instinctively turn to look, and BAM! “Auugh! My eyes! The sun! I’m blind!”

    I blinked away the spots before my eyes and, as my vision returned, chalked it up to coincidence.

    Three days later, at a different time of day, in a different part of parking lot, once again I hear, “I’M A HAWK!”

    Me: “Where? Aughh! Sun! My eyes! Sonova — okay, now you’re just fucking with me.”

    What a clever bird.

  3. #3 Archereon
    January 18, 2011

    Have you ever heard of the Haast Eagle, now extinct of NZ

    from wiki…
    Haast’s Eagles were the largest known true raptors, slightly larger even than the largest living vultures. Female eagles are significantly larger than males. Females of the Haast species are believed to have weighed 10–15 kg (22–33 lb) and males 9–12 kg (20–26 lb). They had a relatively short wingspan, measuring roughly 2.6–3 m (8 ft 6 in–9 ft 10 in). This wingspan is similar to that of some extant eagles (the wingspan now reported in large specimens of Golden Eagles and Steller’s Sea Eagles). Even the largest extant eagles, however, are about forty percent smaller in body size than the size of Haast’s Eagles.

    Evidence suggests it specialised in hunting another NZ original, the Moa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moa

  4. #4 Kulvinder Matharu
    January 18, 2011

    Great photos. And great article! We saw penguins chicks being caught and eaten. Nature is hard.

    Here’s one of my photos…not too good though…

    http://www.metalvortex.com/images/Antarctica/slides/IMG_1546a.html

  5. #5 Sili
    January 18, 2011

    Those look awesome – and adorable.

    SKUAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    I’m a SKUAAAAA!

    SUCK MY DIIIIIICK!

  6. #6 stripey_cat
    January 18, 2011

    Awesome, yes; adorable, no! I’ve seen great skuas (a similar species from very Northern Europe) a couple of times and they’ll put gannets and even herring gulls in their place. I doubt they fear anything much smaller than a sea eagle. And they will get aggressive to humans if they think you’re threatening them and theirs – if they get that touchy over carrion, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near their nests without goggles.

  7. #7 Grant
    January 18, 2011

    Archereon,

    There’s more on the Haast eagle here. As article says, they’ve been extinct for a while, ~500 years. (I’m biased in choosing this article as my grandfather painted the illustration of the Haast Eagle attacking the moa in this article. It’s in the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.)

    More on topic, I’ve been dive-bombed by sea eagles while running in Australia. While (considerably!) smaller than an Haast Eagle, they’re not small.

  8. #8 Katharine
    January 18, 2011

    I’m a SKUAAAAA!

    SUCK MY DIIIIIICK!

    Obligatory:

    http://i53.tinypic.com/2m3fbif.png

  9. #9 Optimus Primate
    January 18, 2011

    Fucking dinosaurs!

  10. #10 ERV
    January 18, 2011

    OMFG I LOVE IT, KATHARINE!!!!!

    Kulvinder– That is an AWESOME pic! Didnt they always do that, though??? The second you got on the beach, they would *HOVER* there, like they were just *WAITING* for you to try to start shit.

    HP– HA!

    Optimus– If anyone came from dinosaurs, it was these guys. SCARY. S-C-A-R-Y.

  11. #11 eddie
    January 19, 2011

    I once had a crow try to take my hair for nesting material. And it’d said they are smart :/

    Also, ironically, that WWN article was actually some good science writing.

  12. #12 Zyzle
    January 19, 2011

    At least they don’t vandalize your car: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMLpPoOeays

    I did see a better video of Kea’s in action absolutely wrecking a tourist spot but can’t find it now.

  13. #13 Archereon
    January 19, 2011

    Grant, If I were a mad scientist, I would so be working on bring the Haast Eagle back, that and extracting the sunlight form oranges.

  14. #14 Sili
    January 19, 2011

    You win, Katherine.

    (I still think they’re adorable.)

    We once had a pet crow, my sister saved from the cats. He loved sitting on heads to the point that my mother had to take to wearing a hat in the garden.

    He fell down dead one of the first nights he had to spend outside.

  15. #15 Kulvinder Matharu
    January 20, 2011

    This article has made me look back at my hundreds of photos that I haven’t published yet and found a few good ones of skuas that I think I should post. So this was a good trip down memory plus the benefit of improving my online portfolio of photos!

    But I still miss the place :(

  16. #16 toner doldurma
    January 21, 2011

    I would so be working on bring the Haast Eagle back

  17. #17 Jonathan
    January 21, 2011

    Are you talking about that raptor that nests over by the Quizno’s on tenth? I’ve been attacked by that thing before, too.

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