Top 15 Largest Birds in the World – Guide to Biggest Birds

Largest Birds in the World
Largest Birds in the World

Birds come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny hummingbirds to massive flightless giants. In this guide, we’ll explore the 15 biggest birds in the world, including both flightless and flying species. Get ready to learn about these amazing creatures that push the limits of avian size!

1. Common Ostrich – The Biggest Bird in the World

Common Ostrich
Common Ostrich

The common ostrich (Struthio camelus) takes the crown as the largest bird on Earth. These flightless birds are truly impressive:

  • Height: Up to 9 feet tall
  • Weight: Up to 350 pounds
  • Native to: Africa

Ostriches are the heaviest living birds and lay the largest eggs of any bird species. Though they can’t fly, they’re incredibly fast runners, reaching speeds up to 43 mph!

2. Southern Cassowary – The Most Dangerous Bird

Southern Cassowary
Southern Cassowary

The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is often called the most dangerous bird on Earth:

  • Height: Up to 6.6 feet tall
  • Weight: Up to 130 pounds
  • Native to: Northern Australia and New Guinea

With powerful legs and sharp claws, cassowaries can seriously injure or even kill humans if threatened. They’re the third-tallest and second-heaviest living bird species.

3. Emu – Australia’s Largest Bird

Emu Australia
Emu Australia

The emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is another flightless giant:

  • Height: Up to 6.2 feet tall
  • Weight: Up to 132 pounds
  • Native to: Australia

Emus are the largest bird native to Australia and the only living member of their genus. They’re known for their long legs and neck, as well as their ability to run at high speeds.

4. Emperor Penguin – The Largest Penguin

Emperor Penguin The Largest Penguin
Emperor Penguin The Largest Penguin

While not as tall as some other birds on this list, the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is still impressive:

  • Height: Up to 4 feet tall
  • Weight: Up to 100 pounds
  • Native to: Antarctica

Emperor penguins are the largest of all penguin species. They’re amazing swimmers and can dive deeper than any other bird.

5. Greater Rhea – South America’s Big Bird

Greater Rhea South Americas Big Bird 1
Greater Rhea South America Big Bird

The greater rhea (Rhea americana) is the largest bird native to South America:

  • Height: Up to 5.6 feet tall
  • Weight: Up to 88 pounds
  • Native to: Eastern South America

Like their ostrich cousins, rheas are flightless but excellent runners. They have long necks and legs, with small wings they use for balance while running.

6. Andean Condor – King of the Andes

Andean Condor King of the Andes
Andean Condor King of the Andes

The Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) is one of the largest flying birds in the world:

  • Wingspan: Up to 10.5 feet
  • Weight: Up to 33 pounds
  • Native to: Andes Mountains of South America

These massive birds of prey are amazing gliders, able to soar for hours without flapping their wings. They play an important role in their ecosystem as scavengers.

7. Dalmatian Pelican – Europe’s Largest Flying Bird

Dalmatian Pelican Europes Largest Flying Bird
Dalmatian Pelican Europes Largest Flying Bird

The Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is a huge water bird:

  • Wingspan: Up to 11.5 feet
  • Weight: Up to 33 pounds
  • Native to: Eastern Europe and Asia

These pelicans are among the heaviest flying birds in the world. They have a distinctive pouch under their bill for catching fish.

8. Wandering Albatross – Widest Wingspan

Wandering Albatross Widest Wingspan
Wandering Albatross Widest Wingspan

The wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) has the largest wingspan of any living bird:

  • Wingspan: Up to 11.5 feet
  • Weight: Up to 28 pounds
  • Native to: Southern Ocean

These seabirds spend most of their lives flying over the ocean, coming to land only to breed. Their huge wings allow them to glide for hours without flapping.

9. Mute Swan – Heaviest Flying Bird

Mute Swan Heaviest Flying Bird
Mute Swan Heaviest Flying Bird

The mute swan (Cygnus olor) is often considered the heaviest flying bird:

  • Wingspan: Up to 8 feet
  • Weight: Up to 30 pounds
  • Native to: Europe and Asia

These beautiful white birds are known for their graceful appearance on lakes and ponds. Despite their size, they’re capable of powerful flight.

10. California Condor – North America’s Largest Land Bird

California Condor North Americas Largest Land Bird
California Condor North Americas Largest Land Bird

The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a rare and impressive bird:

  • Wingspan: Up to 9.8 feet
  • Weight: Up to 26 pounds
  • Native to: California, Arizona, and Utah

These birds were once nearly extinct, but conservation efforts have helped their population grow. They’re the largest land bird in North America.

11. Kori Bustard – Africa’s Largest Flying Bird

Kori Bustard Africas Largest Flying Bird
Kori Bustard Africas Largest Flying Bird

The kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) is a big ground-dwelling bird:

  • Height: Up to 4.5 feet tall
  • Weight: Up to 40 pounds
  • Native to: Eastern and Southern Africa

These birds are among the heaviest that can fly. They spend most of their time on the ground but can fly when needed.

12. Trumpeter Swan – North America’s Heaviest Flying Bird

Trumpeter Swan North Americas Heaviest Flying Bird
Trumpeter Swan North Americas Heaviest Flying Bird

The trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) is a massive waterfowl:

  • Wingspan: Up to 8 feet
  • Weight: Up to 30 pounds
  • Native to: North America

These beautiful swans are known for their loud, trumpet-like calls. They’re the heaviest flying birds native to North America.

13. Marabou Stork – The “Undertaker Bird”

Marabou Stork The Undertaker Bird
Marabou Stork The Undertaker Bird

The marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer) is an unusual-looking bird:

  • Height: Up to 5 feet tall
  • Wingspan: Up to 12 feet
  • Native to: Sub-Saharan Africa

These birds are sometimes called “undertaker birds” because of their appearance. They’re scavengers and play an important role in their ecosystem.

14. Great Bustard – Europe’s Heaviest Flying Bird

Great Bustard Europes Heaviest Flying Bird
Great Bustard Europes Heaviest Flying Bird

The great bustard (Otis tarda) is a hefty ground bird:

  • Wingspan: Up to 8 feet
  • Weight: Up to 40 pounds
  • Native to: Europe and Asia

These birds are known for their impressive courtship displays. They’re the heaviest flying birds native to Europe.

15. Harpy Eagle – The Most Powerful Eagle

Harpy Eagle The Most Powerful Eagle
Harpy Eagle The Most Powerful Eagle

While not the largest bird overall, the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) is worth mentioning:

  • Wingspan: Up to 7.5 feet
  • Weight: Up to 20 pounds
  • Native to: Central and South America

Harpy eagles are the largest and most powerful eagles in the world. They’re known for their strength and ability to catch large prey.

Comparing the Biggest Birds

Here’s a quick comparison of some key facts about these giant birds:

BirdTypeMax HeightMax WeightMax Wingspan
Harpy EagleFlying3.5 ft20 lbs7.5 ft
King VultureFlying2.7 ft10 lbs6.6 ft
Andean CondorFlying4.3 ft33 lbs10.5 ft
Greater RheaFlightless5.6 ft88 lbsN/A
Jabiru StorkFlying5.0 ft20 lbs9.0 ft
Amazonian UmbrellabirdFlying1.7 ft1.4 lbs2.6 ft
Toco ToucanFlying2.0 ft1.5 lbs2.3 ft
Hyacinth MacawFlying3.3 ft3.7 lbs4.3 ft
Great PotooFlying2.0 ft1.5 lbs3.3 ft
Capped HeronFlying2.3 ft2.2 lbs3.3 ft
HoatzinFlying2.0 ft1.8 lbs2.5 ft
Horned ScreamerFlying3.0 ft7.7 lbs5.6 ft
Orinoco GooseFlying2.6 ft5.5 lbs4.6 ft
Black-necked AracariFlying1.5 ft0.9 lbs1.6 ft
SunbitternFlying1.5 ft0.6 lbs2.0 ft

Note: The data in this table represents maximum measurements for each species. Actual sizes may vary among individuals. Some birds, like the Greater Rhea, are flightless and thus do not have a wingspan measurement.

Wrapping Up

From the towering ostrich to the wide-winged albatross, the world’s biggest birds are truly amazing creatures. Whether they’re flightless giants or soaring kings of the sky, these birds show us just how diverse and impressive the avian world can be. Next time you’re out birdwatching, keep an eye out for some of these feathered giants!

FAQs:

Q: What is the largest bird in the world by height?

A: The largest bird in the world by height is the Somali ostrich, which can reach up to 9 ft tall. It is among the largest extant species of birds.

Q: What are the 10 biggest birds in terms of weight?

A: The 10 biggest birds in terms of weight include ostriches, emus, cassowaries, and the wild turkey. The extinct elephant bird is also one of the heaviest birds ever discovered, weighing up to 800 kg.

Q: Which species of bird is the tallest?

A: The Somali ostrich is the tallest extant species of bird, standing at an impressive height of around 9 ft.

Q: What is the largest bird of prey?

A: The largest bird of prey is the Andean condor, which can have a wingspan of up to 10 ft. It is considered one of the largest extant birds of prey in the world.

Q: Are there any large birds in the Americas?

A: Yes, there are several large birds in the Americas, including the California condor, one of the largest birds of the world. It is among the largest birds in the Americas and has a wingspan of up to 10 ft.

Q: How does the size of the extinct elephant bird compare to other birds?

A: The extinct elephant bird is one of the largest species of bird ever known, weighing up to 800 kg. It was larger than any living bird today, including the Somali ostrich.

Q: What are some of the largest living birds?

A: Some of the largest living birds include the ostrich, emu, and cassowary. The Somali ostrich is a notable example and is the largest extant bird by height.

Q: What is the significance of the term “largest extant” when referring to birds?

A: The term “largest extant” refers to the largest living species of birds that are currently in existence, as opposed to extinct species. For example, the ostrich is the largest extant bird, whereas the elephant bird is extinct.

Q: How do large birds like the Somali ostrich adapt to their environment?

A: Large birds like the Somali ostrich have adapted to their environment through strong legs for running at high speeds and a diet that includes a variety of plants and small animals. Their large size helps deter predators.

Q: How does the wingspan of the largest eagle compare to other birds?

A: The largest eagle, the Steller’s sea eagle, has a wingspan of up to 8.2 ft, making it one of the largest birds of prey. However, it is still smaller in wingspan than the Andean condor, which can reach up to 10 ft.

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Nathan

I absolutely adore birds, especially lovebirds, and I’m passionate about exploring forests for bird watching. I wanted to create a space for fellow bird lovers to connect, learn, and share experiences.