They may look beautiful, but large birds like swans can be deadly. According to Fox News, a 37-year old kayaker was killed by a mute swan in Illinois April 14 when the bird attacked his kayak, spilling him into the water, and kept attacking until he drowned. The kayaker, Anthony Hensley, was working at a condominium complex, where part of his job was to check on the swan, which had been placed in the pond to keep geese away. Witnesses say Hensley surfaced at least once after falling into the water, and his death has been ruled an accidental drowning.
During the breeding season, many birds can be aggressive in defending their nesting areas. Mute swans can be particularly territorial, and their large wings, strong bills and sheer size are powerful weapons. Even smaller birds like red-winged blackbirds can be exceedingly aggressive during the breeding season - even if they don't yet have a mate or nest. Northern goshawks, Canada geese, great horned owls and northern mockingbirds are also noted for their aggression around nests, and it is never wise to get too close.
Photo © Vlad Litvinov