Avian eyes, weapon wings & dive bomb mobs
I'm still working on that story I mentioned in the Wings edition, but researching wings didn't give me quite enough to go on when it comes to how a cold-biome species of genetically engineered flying soldiers might fight each other. I somehow assumed that 20 years of watching movies would have given me enough to go on, but no, the world of avian battle is weirder than I expected.
- Many birds have claws, spurs, spikes and knobs on their hands and wrists; they're used for combat.
- Pigeons generally fight by using their wings to hit each other.
- Great tits (I swear that's their name) mostly eat insects and seeds, but have been known to peck the back of bat and bird heads to kill them and eat their brains.
- This video of a (small) bat hunting a (large) chicken by pestering it to sleep was allegedly (I honestly can't tell if it's a joke, but it's too delightful not to share) used by Robert Pattinson to prep for his role in Batman.
- Red bats forage about two hours a night; they attack an insect every 30s, and catch a little less than half of the insects they attack.
The story of the eagle who ignores the pecking raven on its back and simply flies higher until the raven asphyxiates and falls is a pretty neat spin on "taking the high road." In reality, though, eagles probably avoid fighting back because they're less maneuverable and fighting carries big risks. Doesn't mean it's not good advice, though.
Many birds roll or squirm around on the ground when subduing prey or fighting. They basically wrestle with their feet and beaks, during territorial fights or when catching prey. When fighting, starlings will grab their opponent's head in their feet to try and dig their claws into each other's eyes. They'll keep going at it even if you pick them up; it can go on for like 45 minutes at a time.
Carpenter bees engage in aerobatic melees that resemble dogfighting. Though they sometimes fight birds and small mammals, they mostly fight each other; carpenter bees are known to invade each other's territory and try to palm off their parenting responsibilities onto their neighbors. Carpenter bee fights are unusual because they happen relatively slowly, and don't privilege fast flight and sharp turns; it's more like fencing.
Many flocking birds drive off predators by "mobbing" them; flying up to it and making distinctive calls to alert and summon allies. They "dive bomb" enemies and sometimes even poop on them; mostly it's more distracting than harmful, although direct attacks do happen. Owls are over 8 times more likely to hunt species that don't mob them, so it seems like it's an effective (albeit potentially dangerous) technique.
📗 If you found this interesting, you may also enjoy Egg, a story about a dad defending his nest — or perhaps the city walls edition.
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