Birds (Aves or avian dinosaurs) range in size and weight from the 5 cm (2 in) and 1.6-2 grams bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) and 104-156 kg (229-344 lbs) ostrich. Here are the top 15 largest bird species in the world (by body weight).
Birds form one of six basic animal groups, with the others being amphibians, fish, invertebrates, mammals, and reptiles. They are endothermic vertebrates, characterized by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. They reproduce by laying of hard-shelled eggs (eggs fertilize inside the female). The fossil record indicates that birds are the last surviving group of dinosaurs. So, they are also termed avian dinosaurs.
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Birds are “avian dinosaurs”
Ask a paleontologist who is familiar with the phylogeny of vertebrates and they will probably tell you that birds (avians) are dinosaurs. Using proper terminology, birds are avian dinosaurs; while other dinosaurs are non-avian dinosaurs, and, strange as it may sound, birds are technically considered reptiles.
Quiz: How much do you know about birds?
List of Largest birds
15. Dalmatian pelican (up to 15 kg / 33 lb)
The Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is among world’s heaviest flying bird species. It measures 160 to 183 cm (5 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 0 inches) in length, 7.25–15 kg (16.0–33.1 lb) in weight and 290–345 cm (9 ft 6 in–11 ft 4 in) in wingspan. It breeds from southeastern Europe to India and China.
14. Andean condor (up to 15 kg / 33 lb)
Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) can reach a weight of 11 to 15 kg (24 to 33 lb) for males and 8 to 11 kg (18 to 24 lb) for females. Overall length can range from 100 to 130 cm (3 feet 3 inches to 4 feet 3 inches). It also has a very large wingspan, up to 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in), exceeded only by the wingspans of four seabirds and water birds (the wandering albatross, southern royal albatross, great white pelican, and Dalmatian pelican).
Andean condor plays an important role in the folklore and mythology of the South American Andean regions. It is a national symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuelan Andes states. It is the national bird of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador.
13. Trumpeter swan (up to 17.2 kg /38 lb)
Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) is one of the heaviest flying bird species in the world. They are native to North America, and the heaviest birds living in there. They also have a very large wingspan, which can exceed 3 meters (10 feet). The largest known male trumpeter attained a length of 183 cm (6 ft 0 in), a wingspan of 3.1 m (10 ft 2 in) and a weight of 17.2 kg (38 lb).
At one point in the history, the trumpeter swan was dragged to near extinction: in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they were hunted heavily. By 1933, fewer than 70 wild trumpeters were known to exist in remote hot springs in or near Yellowstone National Park, and the extinction seemed inevitable. But during an aerial survey of Alaska’s Copper River in the 1950s, several thousand trumpeters were discovered. This population provided critical genetic stock and with careful reintroductions by wildlife agencies, the Trumpeter Swan Society population gradually increased to over 46,000 birds by 2010.
12. Great bustard and Kori bustard (up to 18 kg / 40 lb), the heaviest living flying animal
The Great bustard (Otis tarda) and Kori bustard are probably the heaviest living flying animal. The Great bustard can be seen in central/south Europa and temperate Asia. But Portugal and Spain now contain about 60% of the world’s Great bustard population. A male Great bustard is typically 90–105 cm (2 ft 11 in–3 ft 5 in) tall, with a length of around 115 cm (3 ft 9 in) and has a 2.1-2.7 m (6 ft 11 in–8 ft 10 in) wingspan. The male can range in weight from 5.8 to 18 kg (13 to 40 lb). Females are much smaller, weighing from 3.1 to 8 kg (6.8 to 17.6 lb).
The Kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) is native to Africa. The male kori bustard is 120 to 150 cm (3 ft 11
11. King penguin (up to 18+ kg / 40+ lb)
The average weight of the King penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is similar or just slightly higher than that of the largest living flying birds – the Great bustard and the Kori bustard. They stand at 70 to 100 cm (28 to 39 in) tall and weighs from 9.3 to 18 kg (21 to 40 lb). Males are slightly larger than females. It is the second-largest species of penguin (the largest is the Emperor penguin).
10. Dwarf cassowary (up to 26 kg / 57 lb)
The dwarf cassowary (Casuarius bennetti) is between 99 and 150 cm (3.25 and 4.92 ft) long and weighs between 17.6 and 26 kg (39 and 57 lb).
It is distributed throughout mountain forests of New Guinea, New Britain, and Yapen Island, at elevations up to 3,300 m (10,800 ft).
9. Darwin’s rhea (up to 28.6 kg / 63 lb)
Darwin’s rhea (Rhea pennata), also known as the lesser rhea stands at 90 to 100 cm (35–39 in) tall. Length is 92 to 100 cm (36–39 in) and weight is 15 to 28.6 kg (33–63 lb). It is found in the Altiplano (Spanish for “high plain”, the name of Andean Plateau or Bolivian Plateau, in west-central South America, where the Andes are at their widest) and Patagonia in South America.
8. Domesticated Turkey (up to 39 kg / 86 lb)
The domesticated turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) was probably domesticated in central Mesoamerica at least 2,000 years ago. The English name, “turkey” is the result of an early misidentification of the bird with an unrelated species which was imported to Europe through the country of Turkey.
They can grow up to 39 kg (86 lbs).
7. Greater rhea (up to 40 kg / 88 lb)
Weighing 20–40 kilograms (44–88 lb), the greater rhea (Rhea americana) is the largest bird on the American continent. Their strong powerful legs allow them to run up to 35 mph (56 km/h).
The greater rhea is endemic to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
6. Emperor penguin (up to 45 kg / 99 lb)
The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is endemic to Antarctica. Reaching 130 cm (51 in) in height and weighing from 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb), it is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species. The male and female emperor penguins are similar in plumage and size.
5. Emu (up to 60 kg / 99 lb)
The emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second-largest living bird by height (the largest one is Emu’s close relative, the ostrich): they can reach up to 1.9 meters (6.2 ft).
Emus weigh between 18 and 60 kg (40 and 132 lb). Females are slightly larger than males. They can sprint at speeds of 48 km/h (30 mph).
Today, the Emu is endemic to Australia. The Tasmanian emu and King Island emu subspecies became extinct after the European settlement of Australia in 1788.
4. Northern cassowary (up to 70 kg / 154 lb)
The Northern cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus) is a large, bulky bird native to northern New Guinea. Females can weigh up to 70 kg (154 lb), with an average weight of 58 kg (128 lb). Males are smaller. Despite its stocky build, a Northern cassowary can sprint up to 50 kilometers per hour (31 miles per hour).
3. Southern cassowary (up to 83 kg / 183 lb)
The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is distributed in tropical rain forests of Indonesia, New Guinea, and northeastern Australia, and it prefers elevations below 1,100 m (3,600 ft) in Australia and 500 m (1,600 ft) on New Guinea. In general, the bird ranges from 127 to 170 cm (50-67 in) and weighs around 36 to 50 kg (males) and 68 kg (females). The maximum size recorded was 190 cm (75 in) tall and 83 kg (183 lb) weight.
The southern cassowary is the largest extant Asian bird (since the extinction of the Arabian ostrich, and previously the moa of New Zealand) and the largest extant Australian bird (though the emu may be slightly taller).
2. Somali ostrich (up to 130 kg / 287 lb)
The second-largest living bird on Earth, Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) is a large flightless bird native to the Horn of Africa, especially in north-eastern Ethiopia and across all of Somalia. It was previously considered a subspecies of the common ostrich but was identified as a distinct species in 2014.
A male Somali ostrich can weigh up to 130 kg / 287 lb.
1. Ostrich (up to 156.8 kg / 346 lb) – the biggest living bird in the world
The ostrich or common ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest living bird on Earth. It is native to Africa. They usually weigh from 63 to 145 kilograms (139–320 lb), or as much as two adult humans. Exceptional male ostriches can weigh up to 156.8 kg (346 lb).
Male ostriches can be from 2.1 to 2.8 m (6 ft 11 in to 9 ft 2 in) in height, while female ostriches range from 1.7 to 2.0 m (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 7 in) tall.
Ostriches have large, powerful legs. Although its bulky body means that flying is out of the question, the ostrich has adapted to life on the ground with impressive agility. Ostriches are superb runners that can sprint at speeds of up to 70 km/h (43 mph). This also makes the ostrich the fastest animal on two legs. The ostrich is also an endurance runner and can jog at 30 mph (48 km/h) for as long as half an hour.
They can also cover 3 to 5 meters (9.8 to 16.4 ft) in a single stride.
Measuring from 2.51 to 3.7 m (8 feet 3 inches to 12 feet 2 inches), Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) has the largest wingspan of any bird.
Wandering albatross is also one of the most far-ranging birds. Some individual wandering albatrosses are known to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean three times (covering more than 120,000 km or 75,000 miles) in one year.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) lists the wandering albatross as vulnerable status.
The largest bird of prey
The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is considered the largest of the extant eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface. It is typically reported as measuring 86–102 cm (2 ft 10 in–3 ft 4 in) in total length. It also has a wingspan of 184 to 220 cm (6 ft 0 in to 7 ft 3 in).
But, in terms of weight and bulk, Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus), the Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) and the Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) are bigger than the Philippine eagle.
Among condors, which are also considered birds of prey though they are primarily scavengers, the title goes to the Andean condor.
The Largest Bird Ever lived:
Update September 29, 2018:
Until recently, the Aepyornis
Vorombe is one of three genera of elephant birds. Back in 1894, British scientist Charles William Andrews (30 October 1866 – 25 May 1924) described Aepyornis titan, the extinct “Elephant Bird” of Madagascar
Their largest femur (MNHN MAD 368) measured by Hansford and Turvey could not be formally assigned to a cluster (group) as it was incomplete. The specimen is thought to belong to
Largest prehistoric birds
The largest known birds of all time might have been the elephant birds of Madagascar. Of almost the same size was the Australian Dromornis stirtoni. Both were about 3 m (9.8 ft) tall and they have shared the same estimated upper weight, around 500 kg (1,100 lb). Elephant birds were still extant as close as the 17th century.
The tallest bird ever was the giant moa (Dinornis maximus) at 3.6 m (12 ft) tall.
The largest known flight-capable bird was Pelagornis sandersi, discovered in 1983 in Charleston, South Carolina, during construction for a new airport terminal. It lived 50 million years ago. The largest specimen found in Antarctica, and its wings, fully extended, spanned more than 6.4 meters (21 feet).
Pelagornis sandersi probably weighed between 48.5 and 88 lb (22 and 40 kilograms).
The Heaviest known flying bird ever lived
The heaviest known flying bird ever lived, Argentavis magnificens (“magnificent Argentine bird”, or more literally “magnificent silver bird”), was more than twice Pelagornis’ weight but had a shorter wingspan. It had an estimated wingspan of 5.09-6.07 m (16.7-19.9 ft), a height of circa 1.5-2 m (4.9-6.6 ft), and a mass of approximately 70-72 kg (154-159 lb).
Largest flying animal ever lived
The largest known flying animals overall are not birds, but instead the azhdarchid pterosaurs of the Cretaceous (the geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago – mya to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya). The wingspans of larger azhdarchids, such as Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx, have been estimated to exceed 10 m (33 ft), with less conservative estimates being 12 m (39 ft) or more. Mass estimates for these azhdarchids are on the order of 200-250 kg (440-550 lb).
Pterosaurs are often mistakenly thought of as dinosaurs. Unlike birds, which are avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs are actually flying reptiles.
- Bird on Wikipedia
- “Biggest Bird Confusion Over. It’s
VorombeTitan Of Madagascar, Says Study” on NDTV
- Trumpeted swan on
- Dalmatian pelican on
- Andean condor on
- Great bustard on
- Kori bustard on
- King penguin on
- Dwarf cassowary on
- Darwin’s rhea on
- Domesticated turkey on
- Greater rhea on Wikipedia.com
- Greater rhea on woburnsafari.co.uk
- Emperor penguin on
- Emu on
- Northern cassowary on
- Southern cassowary on
- Somali ostrich on
- Ostrich on
- Wandering albatross on
- Philippine eagle on
- Giant prehistoric bird fossil with the
largestwingspan ever recorded found in Antarctica on telegraph.co.uk
- Argentavis on
- Quetzalcoatlus on
- “It’s official: researchers name Vorombe titan the world’s largest bird” on Digit.in
- “Are Birds Really Dinosaurs?” on ucmp.berkeley.edu
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