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The diversity of the world goes beyond the world of humans. It also extends to the animal kingdom. In fact, the animal kingdom is home to different species and breeds of animals. From the animals that live in the seas to the animals that roam the land and those that soar in the air, they’re all mysterious and wonderful. Interestingly, they all come in different shapes, sizes, and weights.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the most intriguing animals that live in our world today, Birds. Birds are just as beautiful as they are diverse. And the world we live in is big enough to accommodate them.
Hence, we will consider exploring the incredible world of birds based on their sizes. Here is a shortlist of the 15 largest birds in the world. Read on to learn about the biggest birds in the world.
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Unarguably, the largest bird in the world is the common Ostrich (Struthio camelus). It doubles as the fastest bipedal animal in the world. Quite an interesting feat! Measuring up to 2.8 meters in height and staggering weight of 160kg, Ostrich is clear of all birds in the world. Hence, the ostrich is both the tallest and heaviest bird in the world.
What’s most interesting about the creature is that at this size, the ostrich is, of course, a flightless bird but can outrun plenty of animals with its top speed of 69 km per hour.
Their long, powerful legs double up as defensive weapons, which pack a powerful kick to would-be predators. Ostriches mainly feed on seeds, shrubs, fruits, flowers and small insects.
A quick fun ostrich fact – they can survive without water for days, generating water internally and extracting water from vegetation and can hold up to 1.3 kilograms of pebbles and sand within their gigerium.
2. Somali Ostrich
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The second-largest bird in the world is the Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes). Until early 2014 when this bird was declared a distinct species, it used to be a sub-species of Ostrich. Rising up to 2.7 meters in height and a varying weight of 130kg, the Somali Ostrich, is generally a little lighter than its common ostrich cousin.
Apparently, the ostrich is native to Somalia and parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, and its running speed is just as impressive as the common ostrich. It can cover 5 meters in a single stride.
3. Southern Cassowary
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Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius), native to tropical rain forests of Indonesia and Australia, is the third-largest bird in the world. This large, dark flightless bird measures 5.1 feet in height and 75 to 80 kg in weight. Their bills also have a length up to 7.5 inches. The southern Cassowary might just be the dangerous bird in the world.
Their large feet have sharp 13-centimeters claws they use to kick out in defense and have been known to kill humans. They are flightless and can reach a speed of 30 miles per hour. They feed on insects, grass, fungus etc. The female birds lay large dark eggs, about eight to ten, and the male birds incubate those eggs for about 50 days.
4. Northern Cassowary
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Northern Cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus) is the smaller cousin of the southern cassowary. It is a flightless bird and native to northern New Guinea. For the Northern Cassowary, the female birds are larger than that of males. They weigh up to 70 kilograms and stand at the height of 1.7 meters, making them the fourth largest bird in the world.
Despite their stocky build, the Northern cassowary – also known as the single or one-wattled cassowary or gold-necked cassowary – can run in bursts at 50 kilometers an hour.
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Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the fifth-largest bird in the world and also the largest flightless bird in Australia. Emu lives in the savannas, woodlands, and other forest ranges of Australia. They feed mainly on plants, seeds, fruits, lizards, and other insects. Sometimes, just like Ostrich, they swallow pebbles for grilling the food they are. Emus reaches an impressive height of 6ft and a weight of over 60 kg.
Emus are fast birds, too, reaching 48 kilometers per hour, using their three-toed feet and tiny wings to keep them stable when running.
During the summer, they form pairs, and during the cooler season, they form breeds. Their eggs have a dark green color and weigh up to 1 pound. One nest of emu usually contains 8 or 10 eggs.
6. Emperor Penguin
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The tallest and largest penguins are the Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri). These birds are only found in Antarctica. Emperor penguins can rise to a height of 45 inches and weigh up to 45 kg. They travel up to 80 km in searching for food and can dive up to a depth of 1500 ft. Emperor penguins mainly feed on fishes, squids, and krills.
Just like all the birds we’ve discussed earlier, Emperor penguins are flightless. The male birds are similar in size and coloring to females, but, of course, they perform very different functions in the breeding season.
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The females lay eggs, while the males protect the laid eggs. About hundreds of male penguins protect the eggs from the intense cold for two months of the dark Antarctic winter. While the males do this, the female penguins go in search of food in the open oceans. Female penguins collect food in bellies and bring back the swallowed food for newly hatched chicks. However, during this period, male penguins lose close to half of their body weight. Quite an impressive feat!
7. Domestic Turkey
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Ranging from coast to coast from southern Canada through Mexico, Turkeys are native to North America. And both the wild and domestic turkeys are the same species and part of the largest birds on earth. However, unlike wild turkeys, domestic turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo f. domestica) cannot fly.
Well, you could say they have been selectively bred to be so heavy. Because they’re flightless, they don’t use their breast muscles, meaning their breast meat is white – unlike wild turkeys with dark, gamey breast meat. They stand up to a height of 1.3 meters tall and a massive weight of 39 kg.
Arguably, turkeys have the sense of smell and a sight to help them locate the carrion they feed off.
8. Greater Rhea
The largest bird in South America is the Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) and also one of the largest birds in the world. Greater Rheas are native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. And just like so many birds on this list, the greater rhea is flightless and fast, able to reach 35 kilometers per hour using their long, powerful legs.
About their large wings? They might be used for other purposes like balancing their body while moving, change direction while running, but definitely not for flying. Greater Rheas have a body length between 4.1 ft and 4.5 ft and weigh up to 27 kg.
They feed on insects, lizards, and small birds, and they protect themselves from predators by gathering in flocks of up to 100 birds during the non-breeding season. After all, there is strength in numbers. Females lay eggs in a single nest, can be found more than 50 eggs within a single nest.
9. Kori Bustard
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Kori Bustard is not only one of the world’s largest birds but also the largest flying bird on earth. Weighing up to 20 kilograms and a height of 4 feet long, Kori Bustard has a wide wingspan that measures up to 9 ft. Native to Africa, the kori bustard is two times much heavier than the female.
They feed mainly on insects. Sometimes, they prey on lizards, snakes and even eat seeds and berries.
Unlike other birds, kori bustard drinks water by sucking motion. Kori Bustard spends most of the time in the land, usually in search of insects in grasslands.
10. Andean Condor
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Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), a member of the vulture fam, is the largest bird in South America. This large bird is found in the Andes mountains and South American coasts. Andean condors weigh up to 15 kilograms and rise to a height of 1.2 meters. It has an enormous 10 feet wingspan which helps in flight with the massive body.
Just like members of the vulture family, Andean condors are long-living animals that scavenge on dead mammals. Both domestic and wild. They also feed on dead seals and fishes from coastlines. Also, they hunt other bird’s nests for eggs. This endangered vulture member has a lifespan of 75 years.
11. California Condor
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Californian condors (Gymnogyps Californians) are the largest flying birds in North America. Californian condors are found in the rocky forested regions of Southern California, Arizona, and Utah. Just like other cannon, Californian condor feed kn carrion. With a massive wingspan of about 10 feet wide, California condors, when in flight, glides on air currents, soaring as high as 15,000 feet.
They have a weight of about 15 kilograms and a body length of 4 5 feet. They have been known to travel up to 160 miles in search of a meal. Thanks to conservation efforts, we now have about 230 birds in the wild. Unlike the 22 we had in the 1980s.
12. Dalmatian Pelican
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Dalmatian Pelican is one of the largest flying birds in the world. The Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is native to Eurasia, usually found in rivers, lakes, and estuaries in southeastern Europe, Russia, India, and China. It can grow up to a length of 6 ft. and weigh between 12 and 15 kg.
Dalmatian Pelicans are social birds, living and traveling mainly in flocks, and only have one partner for life. When on land, they don’t look entirely graceful, but in the air, they flap their wings so powerfully and graciously. Speaking of their wings, the wingspan of an adult Dalmatian pelican measures up to 9 ft.
They feed mainly on fish. Every day they eat up to 2 kg of fish. Dalmatian pelican’s diet includes catfish, eels, and European perch.
13. Mute Swan
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Native to European countries, the Mute swan (Cygnus olor) is a large water bird. It grows up to a size of 5 feet and weighs about 14 kg. The mute swan also has a wingspan of 8 ft. Their diet includes aquatic vegetation, insects, and small fish. Their long necks help them to find food quickly under the water surface.
The cute ‘S’ necked birds are intelligent and graceful. But they are not without their dangerous sides. They go all out when defending their territories or families. They stand up tall, hiss and even assault intruders with their beaks and wings. In fact, attacks on humans on water and land are relatively common. Interestingly, they can remember who give them care, and they give well care for nests, babies, and eggs. They usually lay 5 or 6 eggs after mating.
14. Wandering Albatross
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Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) is not only one of the world’s largest birds but also the bird with the largest wingspan in the world. With a wingspan of about 8.3 ft to 11 ft, wandering albatross spends most of their lives in flight, landing only to breed and feed.
The wandering albatross is a beautiful bird and native to the Southern and North Pacific oceans. Out of about 24 different albatross species, wandering albatross, with a weight of 12 kg, is the biggest.
They feed on small fishes, squids and also drink a lot of salt water.
During the breeding season, wandering albatross gather in colonies in remote islands. They lay only one egg after mating. Interestingly, young albatross will make their first flight within few months.
15. Cinereous Vulture
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Last on our shortlist is the Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus). Cinereous vultures are the world’s largest birds of prey (raptor) and one of the largest birds in the world. They weigh up to 10 kg and stand up to 1 meter tall.
This Old-World vulture has terrific eyesight, allowing it to spot carrion while in flight, and a classic vultures’ featherless head to prevent a build-up of blood when it feeds.
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That wraps up our shortlist of the world’s largest birds. This list is not exhaustive as the world is filled with too many incredible birds to have in just one article. However, we hope you’ve learned a few things about the largest birds on earth. Also, do tell us which of the birds you’ve seen in the wild and maybe your favorites too.
What is your favorite bird in the list? While we await your reply in the comment section, check out our animatronic animals; you just might find one that appeals to you.