Terror bird infobox
Terror bird
Phorusrhacos longissimus?
General information
Other names Phorusrhacid
Range South America
Temporal range Early Pleistocene
Diet Other animals, carrion
Notable individuals
Behind the scenes
Appearances Prehistoric Park: Saving the Sabretooth
Prehistoric Park: Supercroc
"No point putting a piece of cuttefish in?"
"You'd need a big cuttlefish!"

The terror bird was an unidentified species of large, flightless predatory bird from Pleistocene South America. One was kept in a paddock at Prehistoric Park.

Physical appearance and biologyEdit

This terror bird was like most others in build, with a long neck and legs, and a heavy, powerful beak and neck. The colouration of its feathers, however, was striking. Its hindquaters were mostly dark brown, but its front, neck and head were yellow, with a single black stripe running down the sides of its throat. It also had a small black and white crest of feathers, which was used for communication.[1]

What appear to be wings on the terror bird's side are actually tipped with small claws. These, however, are functionally useless, although they may be used as part of displays.[2]

Behaviour and traitsEdit

Terror birds were predatory by nature, hunting smaller animals at speeds of up to 60 kilometres an hour.[3] They were ambush predators, stalking prey from the long grass common in the cerrado grasslands of South America. Terror birds killed by pinning prey to the ground with their powerful feet, then slashing and hacking with their beak.[4]

1x6 TerrorBirdTakingDustbath

The Park's terror bird taking a dust bath in its paddock.

However, the terror birds were swiftly outcompeted when North and South America collided, forming the Isthmus of Panama. Placental invaders from the north, such as sabre-toothed cats, were more able predators, and the terror birds and marsupial predators were forced into scavenging from sabre-tooth kills, eventually going extinct.

Like modern day birds of prey such as owls, terror birds would leave little on a carcass, devouring meat, bone, ruffage, hair and feathers. Presumably, like other predatory birds, undigested parts were defeceated in pellets.

Like some modern birds, terror birds required regular dust baths in sandy areas in order to remain clean.

In Prehistoric ParkEdit

Saving the SabretoothEdit

At Prehistoric Park, Nigel Marven planned to rescue a terror bird from the past. He asked Head Keeper Bob to make a paddock for it.

In the Pleistocene, Nigel observed a a terror bird being attracted to a dead Toxodon, killed by a pack of sabre-toothed cats. However, one of the pack returned whilst it was eating, causing the bird to run back to the forest edge and drop its piece of meat.

Nigel managed to retrieve the meat and tie it to his Jeep, and used it to lure the terror bird through his time portal to Prehistoric Park. As it entered the present and ran through the portal site, it screamed at Bob. Shortly after, it was taken into a temporary holding pen, then its own paddock. After a few weeks, it regained its strength and appetite.


Since arriving at the park, the terror bird seemed to have been at least slightly tamed. It did not attack Bob whenever it escaped, instead merely watching him curiously, and none of the staff seem anxious about being around it.

The individual in the park soon began taking dust baths near the paddock's fence. This resulted in gaps constantly being made below the fence, enabling the bird to repeatedly escape. In its final escape, the terror bird confronts Bob whilst is was cleaning the Elasmotherium paddock, and has to be lured away with meat by a team from the Control Room.

During the mass breakout, the terror bird's fences are broken down by a rampaging titanosaur. It escapes into the park, and is presumably recaptured after the situation is resolved.

Behind the scenesEdit

The specific genus of this terror bird is never stated in the series. It is generally believed to be Phorusrhacos. Its size and appearance may correspond more accurately with Kelenken: however, Kelenken was not discovered until 2007.

Its fact file on the Prehistoric Park DVD does not identify the genus, but it does state the name meaning as "wrinkle-bearer". Whilst this is the name meaning of Phorusrhacos, it is also the name  meaning of phorusrhacid, which is the entire terror bird family.

On, the terror bird is identified as Titanis walleri.[5] However, the website makes some errors regarding the series, such as saying Dinobirds is set in the Jurassic era.

List of appearancesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Prehistoric Park DVD "Fact Files"
  2. Prehistoric Park DVD "Fact Files"
  3. Prehistoric Park DVD "Fact Files"
  4. Prehistoric Park DVD "Fact Files"
  5. Prehistoric Park Season 1 Episodes |