Drew ranked the lamest birds over at GQ.com today, and we’re all fairly pissed at him for turning our work chatroom into a warzone filled with bird takes for a piece he didn’t even publish on this site. (Shout out to Burneko for his all-time terrible opinion, “seagulls are good.”)
So I’m going rogue and ranking the best birds, without any input or criteria beyond “I like them.” Please note: I am a city slicker and I don’t see many birds, and definitely don’t know shit about them. I think you’ll find this makes my rankings objective.
1. Eagles. Such a big bird! So majestic. You drop whatever you’re doing when you spot a large bird, and stare at it until it flies away. The bald eagle is definitely not overrated by dint of its national status. But all eagles are equally good.
2. (Non-barn) owls. Ridiculously expressive faces. Special feathers that muffle their flight and let them silently hunt their prey. Exorcist heads. Owls have so many weird features, they ought to be from Australia. Weird little body under there, though.
3. Crows and ravens. The smartest birds. This experiment, where the crow realizes it can drop some shit into water to make the water level rise and float the treat to within beak distance, never fails to blow my mind.
4. Pelicans. Still fucking awesome.
5. Albatrosses. Largest wingspan of any bird. Can glide more than 500 miles a day over open sea without flapping their wings once. Has inspired the best poetry; will haunt you if you shoot it.
6. Hawks, falcons, all the other raptors. If reincarnation is real, I want to live a good enough life to come back as a flying thing capable of 200-mph death dives.
7. Parrots and other talking birds. They talk like people! The best argument against mammalcentrism. Look at this one playing peekaboo.
8. Emus and ostriches. Barely birds at all, to be honest. Big feathered dinosaurs who would gut you in a second if they were still carnivorous. May gut you anyway.
9. Condors. Ugly as hell, and enormous. Feathered pteranodons. Deserve your respect because they will tear your liver out after you die.
10. Cardinals, blue jays, orioles (the baseball birds). Not so rare that I don’t see them, but rare enough for me to get excited when I do. So colorful!
11. Hummingbirds. Hovering seems like a useful bird talent. Every stat about how fast they beat their wings sounds fake.
12. Pigeons. Tough little motherfuckers who can live almost anywhere. They want your food, but aren’t nearly as emboldened as seagulls to think they can take it from you. Kind of pretty if you actually look at them.
13. Sparrows. Fluffy and tiny. When I see people feeding city birds I always root for the sparrows to get in there and get their share, they’re truly bird underdogs.
14. Woodpeckers. They really only do the one thing, but it’s a good weird thing.
15. Flamingos. The most Art Deco of birds.
16. The birds that do this funny little mating dance.
17. Cowbirds. The most hardcore of birds. Will lay their eggs in another bird’s nest, tricking it into raising their chicks. The chicks will then kill the original hatchlings.
19. All the other birds.
20. Flying into the windshield of a car.