Although nature is full of beauty, colors and some cute, adorable species, it has its own share of ugly looking animals too. When we talk of birds, the first image that comes to our mind is that of a free, cute, adorable creature that means no harm. However, the below list would prove otherwise, and talk about birds that are horrific looking and in some cases extremely dangerous too.
Two varieties of vultures, the black vulture and the Turkey vulture need to be specially mentioned when it comes to ugly looking birds.
Biologically called Cathartes Aura, the Turkey Vulture has been named so because of similarity of looks with the Wild Turkey. With the ability to smell the gases arising out of decaying animals, the Turkey Vulture makes people uncomfortable with the mere sight of its ripping through the flesh of dead animals and carcasses. These birds have brownish black feathers and a small disproportionate head. The head is red in color giving the impression of raw flesh while the nostrils have perforations giving the whole face a strange appearance. An incomplete line of eyelashes don’t do too much good to the looks of the bird either. What makes the bird even less likeable is its vocalization. The Turkey vulture, because of absence of a syrinx can only make hisses and low grunts that are not considered to be pleasant omens. The skin of the bird is scaly and saggy looking with lumps that isn’t too pleasant to look at either, making the Turkey vulture one of the worst looking birds in nature.
The black vulture with brown eyes, a featherless head and a glossy black coat are ugly birds. What makes them especially disconcerting to look at is the skin over the head that is full of wrinkles and grey in color. This folded covering around their head makes one almost flinch in disgust.
These birds hold the title of the most dangerous birds in the Guinness book of world records. The size, shape and look of this massive bird defy all delicate imageries associated with the looks of birds. These flightless birds belong to the New Guinea area of Australia where they can be found in the tropical forests. Only the ostrich and emu are bigger than this usually shy bird, which when disturbed or provoked could inflict serious damages on a human being. These birds have 5-6 very small wings, no better than keratinous quills that are really stiff and remind one of a porcupine. The feathers consist of a shaft like structure and barbules, usually black in color. They have weird looking casques or crests on their head which are spongy and made up of foam like material. The powerful legs of this bird are capable of strong kicks and these birds with an average height of 1.5-1.8 meters, can be really scary especially when they decide to attack. The adult cassowary is known to have kicked children to death. Although smaller than the emu, cassowaries are better built and look bulky and strong. The dense black hair body coat and their ability to jump to a good height, swim and kick make them dangerous birds that shouldn’t be provoked or cornered. With red eyes and a bluish neck similar to that of a peacock and sharp claws which look like daggers, cassowaries paint a scary picture.
These flightless birds can be as big as 1.8 meters, with very small vestigial wings but long neck and legs. Running as fast as 30 mph, emus with their size can be scary and can serious break some bones in a human being when they decide to attack. The pale blue neck with very few feathers and gray brown plumage creates a shabby appearance that is ugly and weird to look at. A soft broad bill suited to grazing, with shafts of feathers that are black, and thatch like coat on their body, emus look disconcerting at times. Emu have a full set of teeth, some of them sharp and remind one of vampires. A blackish flat nose and a wide opened mouth that could expand to cover the whole face could make the snarling emu a terrible thing to look at. The straggly, standing hair on an irregular head make the emus look weird and bereft of any regularity in the facial features. Their booming, drumming sound uncharacteristic of birds, adds to strangeness of their appearance.
The snowy owl also known as the Bubo Scandiacus is large and is also known as the Great White Owl which is known for attacking its prey equal to its own size. The face of this bird has features that stick to a person’s mind and can torment the weak hearted. It has yellow eyes and a black beak in contrast to the white color of the face. The younger birds of this species have dark scalloping, barring or dark spotting on their bodies. With a wing span of 5 feet and sharp talons these owls can be scary especially when provoked in the mating season. More than the color of the snowy owls, it is their eyes which look tiny on a more or less round face that lends them the scary appearance which could have been uncomfortably intimidating had it been any bigger.
These birds hold the record for the largest wingspan around 10 feet and look massive when soaring above. The skin of the bird is in the form of folds that form a wattle. The neck and head of the condor have very few feathers, with a caruncle on the head that looks like a comb, giving the bird a weird look. Most of the plumage is black in color except the white frill of feathers, near the base of the neck. Weighing more than 40 lbs, the Andrean condor, placed in captivity in zoos is known to attack children. The face of the condor is looks slightly swollen, with a disproportionately big lower area. The neck of the condor has various colors that change depending on the age of the bird from cream to pink and yellow. With their enormous wing span, bare heads and elongated middle toes, the condors are one of the more intimidating birds in nature. Their ugly ridges on the head can make anyone flinch.
The Californian Condor, which is a protected bird, is one of the ugliest looking birds in nature too. The swollen face of this bird has tints of many colors, and gives the impression of skin boiled and peeled out to expose the flesh underneath.
These giant, flightless birds are native of Africa and are biologically known as Struthio Camelus. When attacking, these intimidating birds could be as fast as around 45 mph and are known for their powerful kicks too. Male ostriches have black feathers with white primaries and a white tail while the younger ostriches and the female ones have grayish white feathers. The plumage of the ostrich can blend well in sandy background providing camouflage from predators. The head and neck of these birds is bare. The reddish beak, which is flat and broad, coupled with some sparse shaggy hair on the head, gives an ugly look to these birds. The eyes of the ostriches are the biggest among land vertebrates. Capable of spotting predators from large distances, these huge bulging eyes look disconcerting on a rather small head. The skin has red or black horn plates, while the long legs have odd looking scales. The feathers on the body are soft and fluffy and lack the smoothness of most other birds. With a long neck, long legs and just two toes on the feet, unlikely of most birds, the ostrich is one of the more ugly looking birds. Add to it, its speed and size and they could be intimidating and scary especially when they are close by.
Two storks, the Greater Adjutant and the Marabou Stork can compete for their ugly looks. Known to find food by sifting through the garbage, these storks with a predominantly long beak the size of the head at its base can make people jump up through their ugliness. Known as the Undertaker bird, the Marabou stork has a wingspan of 10 feet and a dirty, shabby look about it. Huge in size, the stork has a bare head and neck which coupled with the huge bill and a pink sack near the throat gives it a terrible appearance. The black wings and thin long legs add further to its oddity. The sparse hair on the almost naked head, could be straggly and make the head look almost disproportionate in comparison to the huge body beneath. The wispy hair like feathers are further spread over the nape and neck and present, along with the scab-encrusted head, a scary, ugly picture. The Greater adjutant, with its orange colored neck and face, with small eyes, presents a haggard old man’s ugly look.