The 5 Largest Birds in the World

Here's our selection of the 5 largest birds in the world. You'll be amazed at them!
The 5 Largest Birds in the World
Georgelin Espinoza Medina

Written and verified by the biologist Georgelin Espinoza Medina.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Birds are some of the most striking animals, as they’re the only ones that have dominated the air. There are more than 10,000 species in all. All of them are impressive in their own way, with plenty of variety in colors, songs, appearance, behavior, and even size. Regarding the latter, there are some truly imposing, majestic birds that take our breath away. Do you know which are the largest birds in the world?

The largest birds not only have impressive lengths, but also amazing body mass and wingspans. If you want to get to know them and discover which are the largest birds in the world, then you’ve come to the right place, because in this space we’ll bring you the top 5. Don’t miss them!

Which are the largest birds in the world?

The largest birds in the world dominate not only the air, but also the land. Some of them aren’t even able to fly, but they can run very fast.

1. Ostrich (Struthio camelus ): the world’s largest bird

An ostrich.

The ostrich originates from the African continent and is astonishingly big. In fact, it’s the largest in size and mass. It can measure up to 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) in height and weighs about 180 kilograms (400 pounds). However, it’s unable to fly, as its wings are too small. However, it uses them together with its powerful legs to propel itself and balance while running.

This bird belongs to the Struthionidae family. It doesn’t only stand out for its size and weight, but also for being very fast, as it can reach between 60 and 70 kilometers per hour (between 40 and 45 miles per hour). In addition, its eggs are enormous, measuring around 25 centimeters (10 inches) and weighing up to 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).

2. Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

The emu, the second largest bird in the world, is another large running bird. It’s part of the Dromaiidae family, and is an inhabitant of Australia. It can measure about 1.90 meters (6.2 feet) in height, with a body mass between 30 and 40 kilograms (66 to 88 pounds). It has a black beak, long neck, and strong legs that allow it to travel long distances.

3. Rhea

La importancia de los ñandúes para el pueblo sudamericano.

The rhea is another of the largest birds in the world. Like the ostrich and the emu, it’s a running bird, with strong, muscular legs that allow it to travel long distances at astonishing speeds. Its inability to fly is due to its small wings and weight (between 25 and 35 kilograms, 55 to 77 pounds).

This majestic animal can measure between 1.50 and 1.70 meters (5 to 5.6 feet), although females tend to be shorter. It’s endemic to South America. There are two species, the common rhea (Rhea americana) and Darwin’s rhea (Rhea pennata), both included in the Rheidae family.

The anatomy of these large birds isn’t designed for flight, as their wings lack the necessary musculature. In addition, they’re quite heavy, which makes it difficult for them to stay in the air. For this reason, they’re equipped with powerful legs that give them speed and endurance.

4. Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)

There are 21 species of albatross (family Diomedeidae), but the largest in the world is the wandering albatross. As the bird with the largest wingspan, we couldn’t leave it off this list. Its beak alone measures 20 centimeters (8 inches), its body reaches an approximate height of 1.10 meters (3.6 feet), 1.40 in length (4.6 feet), and up to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) from wing to wing spread.

Its plumage is white to brownish, with huge black wings or a combination of black and white, which makes it rather beautiful. Despite its size, it’s endangered. It’s classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threat involves humans, as it falls victim to fishing nets.

5. Great Bustard (Otis tarda)

Although birds such as the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), with a wingspan of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) and about 1.30 meters (4.3 feet) high, the Californian condor (Gymnogyps californianus) with a height of 1.40 meters (4.6 feet) or the marabou (Leptostilos), with 1.50 meters (1.9 feet) and 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) from wing to wing, deserve to be on this list, it’s the turn of the great bustard.

This impressive bird measures about 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) and the wingspan is around 2.7 meters (8.8 feet). However, it stands out for its mass of up to 21 kilograms (46 pounds). A figure that makes it the heaviest flying bird.

Great bustards are sexually dimorphic, so males and females differ in size. Male individuals are the ones that reach the largest sizes and body masses. In addition, these birds can also run very well, as they have powerful legs that help them reach high speeds.

So, here are the 5 largest birds in the world. As you can see, we’ve chosen those who have the records for length, weight, wingspan, or the heaviest flying birds. However, this article can’t do justice to the plethora of incredible birds on this planet. They’re species that show us the wonders of nature and remind us that we must look after all living beings, regardless of their size or appearance.

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