Field Guide To Angry Birds

Around the holidays, I finally downloaded Angry Birds.  Many of my non birding friends had been telling me that I needed the game for my iTouch but I resisted.  Quite frankly, I really don't need another sedentary hobby and I know how I am with "simple games."  Where Non Birding Bill will get caught up in more complex games like Civilization, I get easily hooked into solitaire, cryptograms and what would life be without Fruit Ninja?

But Angry Birds was sweeping that nation and as a die hard birder how could I not test it out?  I waited until I didn't have hard deadlines and started playing it.  The premise is that green pigs have stolen the birds' eggs and the birds launch an all out attack to annihilate the pigs.  In turn, the pigs build elaborate forts and put on armor to guard against the furious birds hell bent on destruction.  Kind of based in reality...wild boars would eat bird eggs if they found them...but I don't see any wild birds with the ability to explode and take down a fort of glass, rock and wood.  You use a slingshot to launch the birds at the pigs and different birds have different abilities.  Physics actually plays a part in the game as to how you launch the birds.

If you are wondering why I'm explaining the game, I asked how many people played Angry Birds at a Birds and Beers and was greeted with blank stares from the entire crowd.  Not many birders play or are aware of it.

As I played the game, I tried to identify the birds.  I wondered...what real birds are the Angry Birds based on?  Here' my opinion, how does it compare with your thoughts on the id of the Angry Birds?  Some are easy:

The Red Angry Bird is a Northern Cardinal--that's a total no brainer and makes sense.  Having had more than one cardinal in my hand, that hard beak is no lie.  They are truly angry birds and capable of nasty bites.

The Yellow Angry Bird is an American Goldfinch.  In the game, it's special ability is to have sudden short bursts of speed.  This would be something more suited to a Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk but that's not as funny as tiny cute bird being angry and taking out big green pigs.

The Blue Angry Bird (that morphs into a flock of three birds when tapped) has been vexing me.  It's tiny and all blue, so that makes me think Indigo Bunting...but that's the wrong shade of blue.  Could it be a Mountain Bluebird?  Or do we need to look at birds outside of North America and could it be an African Blue Flycatcher?  It does have a slight crest and that is about the same color of blue.  This bird's special ability is to break out into three birds when you tap the screen after launching it.

This is the Egg Dropping bird.  I think it's an artistic version of your average chicken, right down to the little orange patches on the cheek.  Note on the above real life chicken that the skin around the eye is yellow.  I will say that its face does remind me of a goose, but I think its body is more egg shaped because it drops egg.  I feel comfortable calling this chicken.

I think the Black Angry bird that explodes is based on a myna bird, most specifically, the Crested Myna.  Look at the color scheme between the two.  The Angry Birds version is more stylized but you can see the the little crest and the red and yellow.  I think there might be some elements of the Common Hill Myna in there too.  And that's a family of birds that always kind of looks angry anyway.  Good thing the real life ones do not explode, it would make keeping them as pets incredibly dangerous.

The Green Angry Bird which acts like a boomerang in the game has got to be Emerald Toucanet, a bird that I've seen in Panama and Guatemala.  Although, I didn't see actually do anything remotely boomerang like.  But compared to the other birds in the game, it's smaller--like the toucanet and has a giant schnoz...or beak.

And then there is the Mighty Eagle, which you never fully see but enough hints are dropped that has to be a Bald Eagle.  Number one, you can see that the head is white.  But the real key is that you never fling this bird--you fling a tin of sardines and the eagle casts a shadow and bounces in for the tin annihilating every pig in sight in the process.  Bald Eagles are capable of hunting but are just as content to eat carrion and dead fish--this so has to be a Bald Eagle. It is hands down my favorite Angry Birds character...even if you do have to pay extra to get it.

So those are my thoughts of the Angry about you?  Do you agree with the id?  Incidentally, I linked to a trailer earlier for the movie Rio.  Word from the producers is that an Angry Birds version of the birds in the movie will be coming so you can fling Spix Macaws, Red-crested Cardinals, Canaries and perhaps a Keel-billed Toucan.  What really cool is that the game touches on the issue of illegal trapping for the pet bird trade. More awareness of that cannot be a bad thing.