Biggest Birds in the World: Birds come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny hummingbirds to giant ostriches. Some bird species are known for their impressive size, with wingspans that can span several meters and heights that can tower over humans. In this article, we will be discussing the biggest birds in the world, including some of their key characteristics, where they are found, and how they compare to other bird species in terms of size and physical features. From the massive wingspan of the wandering albatross to the impressive height of the ostrich, these birds are truly some of the most remarkable creatures on the planet. So let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest birds in the world and what makes them so unique.
Biggest Birds in the World
Find some of the biggest birds in the world
The common ostrich, scientifically known as Struthio camelus, holds the title for being the biggest bird in the world, with no other contender in sight. Towering over other bird species, it is not only the tallest, but also the heaviest, with an average height of over 2 meters (sometimes reaching up to 2.8 meters) and a weight that can go up to a staggering 160 kg. Due to its massive size, the ostrich is unable to fly, but can outrun many animals with its impressive top speed of 69 km per hour, making it the fastest animal on two legs. Its long, powerful legs also double up as defensive weapons, packing a powerful kick to fend off would-be predators. Interestingly, ostriches are able to survive without water for days, generating water internally and extracting water from vegetation.
The Somali ostrich, also known as the blue-necked ostrich, is a large flightless bird that is closely related to the common ostrich. It is one of two subspecies of the ostrich species, Struthio camelus, and is found in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. While it is similar in appearance to the common ostrich, the Somali ostrich has distinctive blue-grey neck and thighs, with bright pink legs and feet. It is also slightly smaller than the common ostrich, with an average height of around 2 meters and a weight of up to 130 kg. Like the common ostrich, the Somali ostrich is a fast runner and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 70 km per hour when threatened.
The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a large flightless bird native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, Indonesia, and northeastern Australia. They are among the heaviest birds in the world, with adult males weighing up to 58 kilograms and standing over 1.5 meters tall. Known for their striking appearance and vivid blue head, these birds also have powerful legs that are capable of inflicting serious injury with their sharp claws. Despite their size, Southern Cassowaries are skilled runners and can sprint up to 50 kilometers per hour when threatened.
Similar to the ostrich, Australia’s emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) are large, flightless birds with shaggy feathers. Although smaller than their ostrich counterparts, emus are still impressive in size, with females growing up to 1.9 meters tall. In fact, they rank as the third largest bird species in the world. Despite their bulky appearance, emus are surprisingly fast runners and can reach speeds of up to 48 kilometers per hour. This feat is accomplished with the help of their three-toed feet and small, useless wings that help maintain stability during running.
The Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is one of the largest bird species in the world and the biggest pelican species, known for its massive size and distinctive appearance. With a wingspan of up to 3.5 meters and a weight of up to 15 kilograms, these birds are among the heaviest flying birds in the world.
The Dalmatian Pelican is named after its breeding grounds in the Dalmatia region of Croatia, where it was once abundant but now has a much more limited range. These pelicans can be found across Europe and Asia, from the Danube River to Siberia and as far south as India.
Despite their impressive size, Dalmatian Pelicans are graceful in flight and are often seen soaring above wetlands and lakes in search of prey. Their diet consists mainly of fish, which they catch by swimming through the water and scooping them up in their massive bills. They are also known to feed on frogs, crustaceans, and other aquatic animals.
Sadly, the Dalmatian Pelican is listed as a vulnerable species due to habitat loss, pollution, and hunting. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these magnificent birds and ensure their survival for future generations.
The northern cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus), which is a smaller relative of the southern cassowary, is indigenous to the northern region of New Guinea. The female northern cassowary is larger than the male, standing at 1.7 meters tall and weighing up to 70 kilograms. Despite their robust build, the northern cassowary, also known as the single or one-wattled cassowary or gold-necked cassowary, is capable of running at speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour in short bursts.
Mute Swan & Trumpeter Swan
The mute swan (Cygnus olor) and the trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) are both species of swans found in North America, Europe, and Asia.
The mute swan is a familiar sight in parks and waterways, with its distinctive orange bill and graceful neck. It is a large bird, with a wingspan of up to 2.4 meters and can weigh up to 15 kilograms. Despite its name, the mute swan is not actually silent and can produce a range of vocalizations.
The trumpeter swan, on the other hand, is the largest native waterfowl in North America. It has a wingspan of up to 3 meters and can weigh up to 13 kilograms. The name “trumpeter” comes from the bird’s loud, trumpet-like call. Once on the brink of extinction, the trumpeter swan has made a comeback thanks to conservation efforts.
The Greater Rhea, scientifically known as Rhea americana, is a flightless bird species native to South America, specifically found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It is the largest bird in South America and belongs to the same family as ostriches and emus.
Adult Greater Rheas can grow up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall and weigh up to 40 kg (88 lbs), with females being slightly larger than males. They have long, strong legs and a distinctive long neck that is curved in an S-shape. Their feathers are brown and gray, with white underparts.
Greater Rheas are herbivores and mainly feed on grass, leaves, and fruits. They are social birds and often form groups of up to 12 individuals, with a dominant male leading the group. During breeding season, males will build a nest on the ground and mate with multiple females. Females will lay their eggs in the male’s nest and then leave, with the male taking on the responsibility of incubating the eggs and raising the chicks.
Greater Rheas are not considered to be threatened, although habitat loss and hunting can impact local populations. They are also sometimes kept in zoos and on farms for their meat and feathers.
Found in Africa south of the Sahara, Marabou storks (Leptoptilos crumenifer) are large wading birds that inhabit both wet and arid habitats, and are often seen near human settlements, particularly landfills.
As scavengers, Marabous are opportunistic feeders, consuming a wide range of prey including termites, flamingos, small birds and mammals, and human refuse. They can also be seen feeding on carcasses alongside other scavengers such as vultures and hyenas.
With their bald heads and wispy hair, Marabou storks have an unusual appearance, which has earned them a place in the “ugly five” category. They have a wingspan of up to 3.2 meters and a height of 1.5 meters. An interesting fact about these birds is that they have hollow leg and foot bones, an adaptation that helps them to fly.
The Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) is a large, distinctive bird species found in parts of East Africa, particularly in the wetlands of South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. They are also known as the Whalehead or Shoe-billed Stork, although they are not actually related to storks.
Shoebills are known for their unique appearance, characterized by a massive, shoe-shaped bill that can be up to 24 cm (9.4 in) in length. Their feathers are grayish-blue, and they have a hunched posture that makes them look almost prehistoric. Adults can reach up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) in height, with a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters (8 feet).
These birds are carnivorous and primarily feed on fish, although they have been known to also eat reptiles, small mammals, and birds. They hunt by standing very still in the water, waiting for their prey to swim by, and then striking with their bill in a lightning-fast motion. They are solitary birds and generally do not form flocks or mate for life.
Shoebills are considered to be a vulnerable species, with an estimated population of only a few thousand individuals left in the wild. Habitat destruction and hunting are the main threats to their survival. They are also sometimes kept in captivity in zoos and private collections.