Centuries of evolution have sculpted birds into something truly magnificent. Birds are some of the most impressive creatures on earth. Some of the world’s largest birds with massive body sizes and wingspans can stretch up to 12 feet, these birds are giants when compared to many other animals on the planet. These gigantic creatures have evolved to thrive in environments that are often hostile to smaller creatures, including regions with deep snow packs, high elevations, and dense forests. And while some of the largest birds in the world are found only in the tropics or on mountain ranges, others can be found all around the globe. Here we’ll take a look at the top 16 largest birds in the world and how they measure up both physically and according to weight.
1 OSTRICH (STRUTHIO CAMELUS)
According to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, Ostrich is the largest bird on Earth, in terms of both weight and size. These high-ceilinged birds can grow to be about 9 feet tall and can weigh up to 287 pounds. Ostriches have a wingspan of up to 2 meters, but this does not allow them to fly. They use their wings in a direction similar to how ships use their sails. So finally With their wings, ostriches can fly without using their legs in a flapping flight.
Experts say that, during a spirited 43-mile-per-hour sprint, these birds open their wings and use them as airfoils in order to quickly brake and steer. This speed is particularly impressive when you think about it when these birds are flying at nearly 43 miles per hour. Though using this agility they are usually able to quickly escape, Ostrich can also avoid potential threats such as lions and jackals on the African savanna.
When the time comes, ostriches will use their claws to charge at a lion and kill them efficiently in favorable conditions. They have powerful feet which give them good leverage with which they can deliver a fatal blow.
2 CASSOWARY (CASUARIUS CASUARIUS)
The Australian Museum claims that the southern Cassowary is one of the tallest birds in the world and thrives in much of New Guinea and Australia. Cassowary’s typically length over up to 6 feet (2 meters), these animals look like dinosaurs from Prehistoric times.
This bird got a helmet on head which is the evolutionary feature topping off at their height and is made of a hard layer of keratin. According to the Edinburgh Zoo, Just like your nails and hair, the material forms a sturdy helmet that allows these birds to flick through herbage as they run through jungles.
Often referred to as the most dangerous and also largest birds in the world, Cassowaries have also earned a prominence for being one of the world’s deadliest bird. All Cassowaries can attack with sharp 3-toed feet that even can inflict a fatal swing to its goal. The middle toe is about 4 inches in length and weigh up to 44 kilograms.
3 EMPEROR PENGUIN (APTENODYTES FORSTERI) [Wingspan: 0.76-0.89 m, Mass: 22 to 45 kg]
According to the World Wildlife Fund, 18 different species of Penguins exist on Earth. Emperor Penguins are the largest and weigh about 88 pounds and can stand up to around 4 feet. The specific weight does change throughout the year and can vary greatly for individuals.
According to the Australian Department for Agriculture, Emperor penguins are able to withstand tough and harshest conditions in Antarctica by insulating themselves with fat stores, and feathers like scales which would hold out against winds of about 68 miles per hour before they frilled. Put simply, these birds have mastered their environment by adapting well to the Antarctic winters.
Regardless of their self generated insulation, Emperor penguin can create a temperature of 24 degrees Celsius by huddling together in colonies and keep themselves warm.
4 EMUS [Wingspan: 0.2 m, Mass: 37 kg (Female, Adult), 32 kg (Male, Adult)]
Emus, scientific name as Dromaius Novaehollandiae, always have a reputation for being clumsy and fast and even their size is really impressive. Typically reaching up to 190 cm, these flightless birds are native to Australia and the world’s one of the tallest bird. Females can grow larger than males and they weigh 33 kg on average and have slightly larger tails.
Despite seeming like they might be a strange choice, Due to their evolution, Emus are flightless bird with their vestigial wings that help them to flap in order to maintain balance when running on grounds. Surprisingly, they have only three toes and gastrocnemius muscles.
5 LESSER RHEA
The South American ostrich has a body about the size as an ostrich, weighs 15–25 kg, and is found in Patagonia. Rheas usually live at high elevations in open habitats. They are also found throughout Patagonia on the steppe.
The Lesser Rhea is also a largest bird and smaller of the two present species of rheas that are found primarily in the Patagonia and Altiplano of South America. It is a flightless species of Rhea and also known as Darwin’s Rhea.
The Lesser Rhea’s height measures around 90 to 100 cm, though the length usually hovers around 92 to 100 cm and weight is usually between 15-28.6 kg. Despite of their small heads and a thin bills that measures 6.2 – 9.2 cm on average, they have long neck along with long legs.
A study found that the males of Lesser Rheas (members of a type of wild goose from South America) can become ferocious once they incubate eggs just like their female counterparts.
Ostriches, emus, and rheas are livestock animals that offer health benefits on top of producing commercial goods. Their valuable feathers are used in feather dusters, meat and eggs are consumed, and their hides can be made into leather.
6 GREATER RHEA (RHEA AMERICANA) [Wingspan: 1.5 m, Mass: 23 kg]
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute has shared the fact that These birds look very similar to ostriches, and how these birds are actually their South American cousins. These birds’ impressive strength and weight can reach up to 66 pounds, only around a fifth of an adult ostrich and rhea can still be as tall as 5 feet (1.5 meters).
According to the Houston Zoo, the rhea birds have wings that act as balance support such as ostriches when they run up to 65 kilometers per hour at high speed. Females lay a high number of eggs, usually around 40 eggs per breeding time of period, but the male is responsible for indicating the eggs during the last month before they are usually hatched.
7 DALMATIAN PELICAN (PELECANUS CRISPUS)
For the world’s largest and one of the largest flying birds in the world, these Pelicans have a wingspan of more than 11 feet (3 meters). According to the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, in addition to being one of the most dominant species, these birds are high flyers that can reach heights up to 10,000 feet high in the sky.
Along with having a large pair of wings, Dalmatian Pelicans also crave a lot of food. Unlike other seabirds, Dalmatian Pelicans have the ability to needlessly consume massive amounts of fish. According to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, an adult bird can consume around four pounds of fish in one day.
In order to accumulate a large amount of fish, Dalmatian Pelicans pull fish from the water in a very particular way. Dalmatian Pelicans scan the surface and dive into the water and excavate fish from the surface. Once the fish are shut in their bill, they will remove the water, gulp down their meal, and plunge back into the sea.
8 GREAT BUSTARD (OTIS TARDA)
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has found that a Great Bustard, also known as the European Great Bustard, is the largest field bird in Europe. These spotted birds is inhabitant to the range from Central Asia all the way to Morocco and also Russia. These birds weight can reach up to 31 pounds (Male) and stand almost 4 feet (Male). They are also easy targets for hunters because they are relatively large compared to other animals and uniquely shaped. As a result, the natural population of Bustards is declining over the years:, especially in the United Kingdom. Almost one-third of the global population has gone extinct since the 1960s.
For nearly two centuries, the last surviving “Bustard” was captured in 1832, in the United Kingdom and has since been reintroduced in 2004. At today’s moment, the UK has a population of more than 100 birds.
9 CINEREOUS VULTURE [Wingspan: 2.5-2.9 m, Mass: 14 kg]
Cinereous Vultures are the largest European Vulture, and some, also among the heaviest and largest raptors in the world with their wingspan reaching over 3 meters or 11 feet. These vultures are also known as Eurasian Black Vultures. It weighs between 31 pounds and has mostly black feathers with large brown eyes.
In adult Cinereous Vulture, the feathers cover their bodies but are small and have gray or cream-colored legs. The juvenile version of the bird has pink colored legs due to a difference in color chemicals between their respective genders. Female Cinereous Vultures are typically bigger and heavier than males.
Cinereous vultures, also known as monk vultures, live in solitary groups and have a round ruff of feathers that forms a scapular cape. They do not congregate to feast upon the carcass of dead animals and often dominate the food site with their aggressive behavior towards other scavengers. This behavior is exhibited by dog-like foxes while they are fighting over an opportunity to eat the remains of dead animals.
The wild Turkey, or Meleagris gallopavo are also the largest bird that can fly. Turkeys typically weigh about 13.5kg, and they can grow up to 124 cm in length. Howeverdue to their size, turkeys are extremely quite nimble on the ground and don’t stay in the air for more than 400 meters at a single time. Wild Turkeys are large in size and have long legs with wide, rounded tails, small heads and interesting dark meat.
Due to the fact that Turkeys are domesticated, they have no chance of flight, as they have too much body fat percentage which prevents them from their wings from getting enough lift, since they don’t use their breast muscles.
11 WANDERING ALBATROSS (DIOMEDEA EXULANS) [Wingspan: 3.5 m, Mass: 6-13 kg]
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, as the largest of the world’s birds, this sea bird can have an impressive wingspan of up to over 3.35 meters (11 feet). They glide across the ocean without a hitch with their majestic wings. Adults can weigh from 5.9 to 12.7 kg.
In the case of these birds’ extreme wings size, they spend a lot of time in the sky — which means that their wings can span a lot of distance. In fact, a single bird was found to have flown around 6,000 kilometers over a period of 12 days. So we can easily say that Albatrosses are great travelers. Approximately 23 species found of albatross on the Earth but, the majority of albatross populations are endangered or threatened except only this one, due to the birds getting caught in fishing hooks while scavenging fish and squid bait from fishing boats and schooners.
The mute Swan also known as Cygnus olor, considered by many to be the heaviest waterfowl, averaging 26.6 pounds in weight and measuring an average of 100-130 centimeters long. Trumpeter swans are flabbily lower, weighing 25.5 pounds but are also longer than the mute swan at 138-165 centimeters.
Mute Swans, named for their look and behavior, are well aware of their surroundings with keen vision and hearing. They make sounds such as honks, hissing and blowles. Adults can make snorting noises.
The Polish mute Swan cob, scientific name Cygnus immutabilis, is a small species of mute swan that has ever been verified to clutch soaring, weighing in at around 23 kg. It is a morph of the mute Swan, which tends to have the characteristic conformation of white feathers with pink legs even when it is not in breeding plumage.
13 HARPY EAGLE (HARPIA HARPYJA) [Wingspan: 2 m, Mass: 6-12.7 kg]
One of the most common types of eagles, eagles in general have unusually sharp beaks designed to tear prey apart, and powerful talons that can grip prey under their foot. However, harpies are one of the largest birds on Earth, with a dark gray color. The Harpy Eagle is named after a bird in Greek mythology that was human-like with brown and white feathers. They are larger than most other species of eagles, especially when compared to their weight.
There is a big difference between both the male and female Harpy Eagle. San Diego Zoo says that the weight of an adult female can be 20 pounds or less while a male weight can reach up to 12 pounds. In contrast, according to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, a bald eagle weighs up to 14 pounds.
These birds fly all over South America, 6.5 feet wide wingspan and hunting for food down below. When they come across prey such as opossums, porcupines and deer they use their 5 inch claws to kill their prey at speeds of 50 miles per hour.
14 MARABOU STORK [Wingspan: 2.2 – 2.9 m, Mass: 9 kg]
Marabou Storks are large feathered birds that can be found in south of the Sahara, Africa in both dry and moist climates. They are voracious eaters and eat anything from termites and elephants to other animals such as flamingos. They often inhabit landfill places finding meat and food scraps instead of hunting. Sometimes they also work with vultures and hyenas to forage on corpses.
The Marabou Stork is a strange looking bird that also has a shaved head with some particles of hairs on their forehead, perhaps they are worthy for their inclusion in the ‘Ugly Five’ of Africa. They can have a wingspan up to 3 feet long and height can reach up to 1.5 meters. And weighing around 4.5 to 8 kg. Despite the weird physical features, these birds actually have some very interesting adaptations. They have their hollow leg and foot bones for flight purposes that usually helps them to fly in the sky easily.
15 SHOEBILL (BALAENICEPS REX)
These long-legged birds are one of Africa’s strangest and tallest. Shoebills are commonly referred to as “whale-headed storks”, because they are so tall. They stand up to 1.5 meters tall and weigh up to around 8.8-15.4 pounds. Shoebill spend much of their lives in waterways and freshwater wetlands, hunting fish and other aquatic species.
BirdLife International has studied that the success rate of Shoebills hunting is around 60%, making a deadly attack into the water, because of their single nature and commitment to their territory. These solitary and carnivorous animals are not found in large groups and often found in territories around the size of about 3 square kilometers.
16 ANDEAN CONDOR (VULTUR GRYPHUS) [Wingspan: 2.7 – 3.2 m, Mass: 7-15 kg]
One of the largest and most impressive species of raptors, The Andean Condors have an impressive wingspan that can measure up to 3.2 meters. According to Welsh Mountain Zoo, with their wingspan reaching up to 5.5 meters, the condor is able to soar over 18,000 feet above any other bird with peaks of the South American Andes.
With their wide wingspan, Andean Condors can glide on air currents with little to no energy expended because they have the ability to flap their wings a lot while gliding. The Andean condor is a species of vulture that doesn’t primarily hunt and scavenge its meals from animals who have died or are dead.
According to San Diego Wildlife Alliance, the Andean Condor can chew 15 pounds of carrion in a single meal. The species also has a long lifespan of around 50 years and 80 years while in captivity.