Bird Attacks: How Many Humans Do Birds Kill Each Year?

Bird attacks on humans are extremely rare, but they do occasionally happen. If you’ve ever been dive-bombed by a territorial bird or had a close call with a large, aggressive species, you probably wondered if birds actually kill people.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Available data suggests birds kill between 75 and 100 people per year on average worldwide.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the types of birds that pose the greatest danger to humans, look at statistics on fatal bird attacks, and provide tips to prevent aggressive bird encounters.

Bird Species Most Likely to Attack Humans


Ostriches are known to be the largest and heaviest bird species in the world, and they are also known for their strong legs and sharp claws. While ostriches are generally not aggressive towards humans, they can become territorial and defensive if they feel threatened.

In rare cases, ostriches have been known to attack humans by kicking or pecking them with their powerful beaks. These attacks can cause serious injuries, so it’s important to keep a safe distance from ostriches in the wild or in captivity.


Cassowaries are another bird species that can pose a threat to humans. Found mainly in the rainforests of Australia and New Guinea, cassowaries have long, dagger-like claws on their feet that they use for self-defense.

They are known to be very territorial and can become aggressive if they feel threatened. In fact, cassowaries have been responsible for several attacks on humans, resulting in injuries ranging from scratches to more serious wounds.

It’s best to admire these fascinating creatures from a safe distance and avoid any confrontations.


Emus, native to Australia, are flightless birds that are known for their size and speed. While emus are generally shy and avoid human contact, they can become aggressive if they feel cornered or threatened.

Emus have been known to charge at humans and can cause injuries with their sharp beaks and strong legs. It’s important to give emus their space and not approach them too closely, especially during mating season when they can be more territorial.

Mute Swans

Mute swans, also known as Cygnus olor, are large and elegant birds that are often found in lakes and ponds. While they may appear graceful, mute swans can become aggressive and territorial, especially during nesting season.

Mute swans have been known to attack humans if they feel their nests or offspring are being threatened. These attacks can involve charging at humans and pecking them with their strong beaks. It’s important to give mute swans their space and avoid getting too close to their nests to minimize the risk of an attack.


Geese are common birds found in many parts of the world, and while they may seem harmless, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened, especially during their nesting season. Geese are known to hiss, flap their wings, and even chase humans if they get too close to their nests.

While their attacks are usually not severe, they can still cause bruises or scratches. It’s best to give geese their space and avoid provoking them to prevent any potential attacks.

Remember, while these bird species have been known to attack humans in certain situations, it’s important to respect their space and observe them from a safe distance. Appreciating the beauty of birds in their natural habitats can be a wonderful experience, but it’s crucial to prioritize safety for both humans and birds.

Fatal Bird Attack Statistics

While bird attacks on humans are relatively rare, there have been documented cases of fatal attacks throughout history. Let’s take a look at some statistics related to these incidents.

1. Number of Fatal Bird Attacks

According to the Bird Watcher’s Digest, the number of fatal bird attacks on humans each year is difficult to determine accurately. This is mainly because such incidents are incredibly rare and often go unreported or misattributed.

2. Most Dangerous Bird Species

Some bird species have been known to exhibit aggressive behavior towards humans, increasing the likelihood of potential attacks. The Cassowary, for example, is considered one of the most dangerous birds in the world due to its sharp claws and strong legs.

Similarly, the African Ostrich is known for its powerful kicks, which can be fatal.

However, it’s important to note that these species typically only attack when they feel threatened or provoked. In most cases, avoiding confrontation and respecting their natural habitat can help prevent such incidents.

3. Common Bird Attack Injuries

While fatal bird attacks are rare, non-fatal attacks can still result in serious injuries. Birds with sharp beaks, such as peacocks or swans, have been known to cause lacerations or puncture wounds. Additionally, some birds, like seagulls, have been known to snatch food from people’s hands, resulting in minor injuries.

4. Preventive Measures

To minimize the risk of bird attacks, it’s important to follow some preventive measures:

  • Avoid feeding wild birds, as it can encourage aggressive behavior.
  • Respect their personal space and avoid getting too close to nesting areas.
  • If you encounter a bird that appears agitated or aggressive, slowly back away without making sudden movements.
  • If you’re visiting an area known for potentially dangerous bird species, it’s advisable to seek information or guidance from local authorities or experts.

Remember, bird attacks on humans are extremely rare, and most birds pose no threat to human safety. Appreciating these magnificent creatures from a safe distance can lead to a harmonious coexistence.

What Circumstances Prompt Bird Attacks?

Bird attacks on humans are relatively rare, but they can occur under certain circumstances. Understanding these circumstances can help us avoid potential conflicts and coexist peacefully with our feathered friends. Here are three common situations that can prompt bird attacks:

Territorial Defense

Birds are fiercely protective of their territories, especially during breeding season. When they perceive a threat, whether it’s a human or another bird, they may engage in aggressive behaviors to defend their space. This can include swooping, diving, or even pecking.

It’s important to remember that birds are not attacking out of malice, but rather to protect their nesting sites or food sources.

According to a study conducted by the University of Florida, territorial aggression is more common in species such as seagulls, crows, and magpies.

Nest Protection

Another situation that can trigger bird attacks is when humans unknowingly approach or disturb bird nests. Birds invest a significant amount of time and energy in building their nests and raising their young. If they perceive any threat to their offspring, they may exhibit defensive behaviors.

This can include dive-bombing or vocal warnings to deter potential predators.

In a survey conducted by the National Audubon Society, it was found that bird attacks related to nest protection are more common in urban areas where human activities often come into close proximity with nesting sites.


While birds are generally not a significant threat to humans, there are exceptions when it comes to certain predatory species. Raptors, such as hawks and eagles, have been known to attack small animals, including pets.

In rare cases, they may mistake a small child or a person carrying a small animal as prey.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, bird attacks by predatory species are extremely rare, and the chances of encountering such an incident are minimal.

It’s important to note that most bird attacks are defensive in nature and are a result of humans unwittingly entering their territory or threatening their nests. By being aware of our surroundings and respecting the natural behaviors of birds, we can minimize the risk of bird attacks and peacefully coexist with these remarkable creatures.

Preventing Bird Attacks

Avoid Nests

Birds can become territorial and aggressive when they feel their nests are being threatened. To avoid potential bird attacks, it is essential to steer clear of nests. Keep an eye out for signs of nesting activity, such as birds flying in and out of a specific area or chirping loudly.

If you come across a nest, give it a wide berth and find an alternative route.

No Sudden Moves

Birds can be startled by sudden movements, which may trigger their defensive instincts. To minimize the risk of a bird attack, it is crucial to avoid making any sudden or jerky motions when you are in close proximity to birds.

This includes refraining from waving your arms or quickly approaching birds in their natural habitat.

Cover Your Head

If you find yourself in a situation where a bird is swooping or dive-bombing towards you, protect your head. Birds often aim for the head as they perceive it as a potential threat. Use your hand, a hat, or any available object to shield your head and face.

This will reduce the chances of being injured during a bird attack.

Report Aggressive Birds

If you encounter a particularly aggressive bird or witness repeated bird attacks in a specific area, it is important to report the incidents to the appropriate authorities. They can assess the situation, determine if any intervention is necessary, and take steps to prevent future bird attacks.

Reporting aggressive birds helps to ensure the safety of both humans and the bird population.

For more information on bird behavior and safety tips, you can visit or

Bird Attack First Aid

While bird attacks on humans are relatively rare, it is important to know how to respond in case you find yourself in such a situation. Here are some essential first aid tips to keep in mind:

1. Assess the situation

First and foremost, assess the severity of the bird attack. Are you dealing with a small bird pecking at you or a larger bird with more aggressive behavior? Understanding the situation will help you determine the appropriate response.

2. Protect yourself

If the bird is still attacking, try to protect yourself by covering your head and face with your arms or a jacket. This will help minimize the risk of injury to sensitive areas.

3. Seek medical attention

If the bird attack results in deep cuts, puncture wounds, or excessive bleeding, seek medical attention immediately. Bird beaks can harbor bacteria, increasing the risk of infection.

4. Clean the wound

For minor injuries, clean the wound thoroughly with mild soap and water. Apply an antiseptic ointment and cover it with a sterile bandage to prevent infection.

5. Watch for signs of infection

Keep an eye on the wound for any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, warmth, or pus. If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical help promptly.

6. Report the incident

If you experience a serious bird attack, it’s important to report the incident to the relevant authorities, such as animal control or local wildlife agencies. This information can help them track and manage potentially aggressive bird behavior.

Remember, bird attacks are rare, and most birds will not pose a threat to humans. However, being prepared and knowing how to respond can help minimize any potential harm. Stay safe and enjoy the beauty of birds from a respectful distance.


Although human fatalities from bird attacks are rare, large bird species can pose a serious hazard under the right circumstances. Being aware of aggressive bird behavior and taking steps to avoid nests and chicks can reduce the risks.

In the event of an attack, protecting your head and reporting the incident can help prevent further human injuries.

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