There are a variety of big birds in the world but having the knowledge of the largest bird in the world is important. You should know that some of the largest birds in the world are as tall as a basketball player.
Let’s look at the various types of big birds in the world before we go into which is the biggest.
1. What is a Bird?
A bird is known to have feathers, a lightweight skeleton, and beaked jaws. They belong to the class of Aves and they reproduce their young ones by laying eggs.
Birds are also known to have come from a group of dinosaurs known as the avian dinosaurs. They can come in different shapes and sizes as they range from the smallest to the biggest birds.
You should know that over 80 million years ago, there were really big and gigantic just like Gargantuavis philoinos which were about six to ten feet. Although it wasn’t confirmed that this specie of bird has the ability to fly research has shown that they are really strong and powerful.
Birds have bones that contain many cells which enables them to fly with ease. There are however birds that prefer to stay on the ground. The fact that there are flying birds like the Andean condor doesn’t mean they are heavy.
2. What is the Largest Bird in The World?
The biggest bird in the world based on wingspan is known as the wandering albatross. It has a wingspan that is over 5 meters with its weight being 12 kilograms. The weight of the wandering albatross is synonymous with that of a small corgi.
This weight assists flightless birds to be kind of physically daunting. This is because flightless birds don’t always have it easy for them. The elephant birds are known to be the tallest and heaviest birds that existed. They are just like ostriches but are 3 meters tall and about 454 kilograms in weight.
The largest bird in the world is known as the ostrich.
3. Top 10 Largest Birds in the World
Here is a list of the top ten biggest birds in the world in no particular order:
3.1. Southern Cassowary
This bird shares more resemblance with ancient dinosaurs than other species of birds. It is a gigantic flightless black bird that you can find in places like New Guinea, North Eastern Australia, and Indonesia.
They have fierce claws and a helmet-like head, just like most dinosaurs. This helmet-like head helps to protect their heads as they journey through life.
They are known to be the fourth-largest birds in the world compared to emus and ostriches, and they are also considered the most dangerous birds existing. You should know that the females are bigger than the males. The females weigh up to 80 kilograms, while the males weigh up to 55 kilograms.
They are a very intelligent species of bird and communicate through rumbling sounds. When it is the season of breeding, the males communicate with the females via a low-frequency infrasound.
3.1.1. Eating Habits of Cassowaries
Their physical appearance would make you think they only feed on other birds. Far from it, they mostly feed on fruits. However, in situations where they see young and feeble animals, they feed on them. Their mode of feeding helps to play an important role in their ecosystems.
You should know that there are various species of plants that would only germinate after they’ve gone through the digestive system of a cassowary. The kind of food they eat includes carrots, tomatoes, bananas, apples, and sweet potatoes.
3.1.2. Development and Reproduction of Cassowaries
The breeding season of cassowaries occurs in the winter months, from April to November. In the season, the males go out to build really large and oval-shaped nests made from grasses and sticks. The females, on the other hand, lay their eggs in the nest.
One interesting fact is that females allow the eggs to be fathered by other birds. The males take up the responsibility of caring for the eggs by incubating them and even raising the chicks.
When left alone in the wild, cassowaries live up to 20 years, but when kept in human care, they can live up to 40 years.
3.1.3. Fun Facts about Cassowaries
- The only bird heavier than the southern cassowary is the ostrich.
- They are excellent swimmers.
- It was in 1957 at the San Diego Zoo that the first ever cassowary chick was hatched and cared for.
- They can run up to 30 miles every hour.
3.2. Mute Swan
This bird is known to be the world’s largest flying bird. It is a huge white bird with a long neck and a black face. They are mainly found in the northeast of North America. Some people think that they are a nuisance because of their hoarse voices and loud wingbeats.
Since they mostly stay in the water, they feed by splashing water surfaces and dipping their heads into the water for their food. You should know that they have the ability to adapt to the artificial feeding provided by humans.
They can lay up to 5 to 10 eggs all at once, and their incubation period lasts for about 36 days. The males are responsible for sitting on the eggs while the females go out to scout for food.
They mostly feed on leaves, seeds, and roots of aquatic plants like algae, pondweeds, and eelgrass. They can also be caught eating insects, small fish, snails, tadpoles, and worms.
3.2.1. Interesting Facts
- They are known as Cisne Vulgar in Spanish and Cygne Tubercule in French.
- They form a long-lasting pair of bonds with each other.
- They are known for their solid monogamist nature, which makes most cultures adopt them as a symbol of love.
- They remain loyal to their mating partners.
- During the breeding season, there is always a noticeable swelling of their black knob.
- They have a very large appetite.
- They can be really violent towards pedestrians who go close to their chicks and nests.
- Their average weight is from 24 to 26 pounds.
- They can grow up to 1.7 meters tall.
This is a big stalk-like bird that grows up to 1.5 meters high. They possess an oversized shoe-shaped beak, hence the name, whale head. They are mostly found in the freshwater swamps of East Africa.
They can also be found in places like Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia. You can find them in marshlands and swamps. They have a lifespan of 35 years and weigh about 4 to 7 kg.
You should know that they belong to the Balaenicipitidae family and are piscivorous in nature. This means that they feed on fish like catfish, lungfish, bichirs, and tilapia fish. Apart from eating fish, they also feed on lizards, snails, frogs, rodents, and water snakes.
They have been classified as a vulnerable bird because of habitat destruction. They do not survive in every breeding environment.
3.3.1. Fun Facts
- They are very beautiful and unique with their pale and blue eyes.
- They are known to have the third largest beak in the whole world, which is about 24cm long. Their beak helps them hunt for their food.
- They are very smart in the sense that they can appear motionless for a long time before launching an attack on prey.
- Although they are known to be silent, they make a lot of sounds during courtship.
- They can defend their territory from a very far distance.
- You can’t find them everywhere because they are a rare species.
- They have really large feet
3.4. Greater Rhea
This bird is known to be the biggest bird in the whole of South America. They belong to class Aves and the family of Rheidae. They are also known for their remarkable reproductive habits.
You should be aware that the males are usually bigger than the females. They have long wings, which they use to maintain stamina and during courtship displays. They are heavily feathered from their neck to their thighs.
They are considered to be diurnal birds because they are most active during the day. They are known to form a flock of up to 100 birds when it’s not the non-breeding season.
They have a way of running in a zigzag pattern when they are being chased. You should know that rheas are really fast runners as they run up to 64 km per hour. They can be regarded as extremely silent birds, not until it is time for mating when they make noises.
They mainly feed on fruits, seeds, and broad-leaved foliage. You can also find them eating small rodents, insects, fish, small birds, reptiles, and scorpions. In the dry season, they feed on dead fish in small quantities.
3.4.1. Mating Habits
Unlike other birds, rheas are polyandrous in nature, where both males and females have more than one partner. You should know that during winter, the already-formed flocks break apart, where they form little groups of a male and about 15 females.
Their violent nature towards one another is very obvious during winter when the courtship with females begins. They do this by calling out to the females by elevating the front part of their body whilst their necks are kept straight.
Immediately, a male attracts a female for mating; he takes her to his nest, where the female will lay her eggs, and the male incubates it. The female can then go and mate with another male she finds attractive. A nest can be used by different females where up to 80 eggs can be laid.
You should know that it takes 29-49 for the incubation period to last when all the eggs are hatched in 36 hours. Once this happens, the males are left with the responsibility of protecting the chicks.
3.4.2. Fun Facts
- The fact that they have really long wings doesn’t mean they can fly. They basically use their wings to protect themselves from predators.
- The males are the ones who incubate the eggs and care for the chicks
- Their feathers are used to produce feather dusters in South America
This bird is known to be the second biggest bird existing in the world, with over 1.5 meters tall. They weigh about 100 pounds and belong to the family Dromaiide.
They are flightless birds that you can find in the Southern Hemisphere. The females are usually bigger and larger than the males. They have a unique kind of feathers that grow from follicles that are widely spaced.
Their wings can be considered useless since they are flightless, but they are really good at running with their long and powerful legs. They can run as far as 48 kilometers per hour. They have excellent eyesight, which helps them to get away from danger as soon as they sense it.
3.5.1. Habitat and Feeding Habit
They are known to be omnivores as they eat a variety of foods that have both plant and animal origin, depending on the season. During the rainy season, they feed on acacia seeds, and in winter, they feed on live pods of cassia. They also eat caterpillars and grass shoots during the rainy season.
You can also find them eating fruits and grasshoppers, lizards, ants, moth larvae, and ladybugs during spring.
3.5.2. Mating Behaviour
They are known to make their nests during the winter period, where both males and females stay together for up to five months. During these five months, they undergo courtship, the building of nests, and the laying of eggs.
The eggs are laid at intervals for about four days, which are about 130mm x 90mm. The initial color of the eggs is dark bluish-green, and they change color when exposed to the sun.
The females are usually in charge of the males during the mating period, but once it’s time for the incubation of the eggs, the males become aggressive. The males are so dedicated during the incubation period because they do not eat, drink water, defecate, or even leave their nests till the incubation period is over.
3.5.3. Fun Facts
- They are really fast runners with about 48 to 50km per hour
- They are excellent swimmers
- They have long and strong legs
- The males are responsible for incubating the eggs
3.6. Domestic Turkey
This is a very large bird that belongs to the family of Phasianisae and the class Aves. It is known as Meleagris gallopavo domesticus. The domestication of turkey is known to have started in Mesoamerica about two thousand years ago.
This type of bird is a common form of a bird that is bred in temperate parts of the world. You should know that female turkeys are referred to as hens, while the chicks are called turkleylings. The male is referred to as toms in the United States and Canada, while it is called stags in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
These birds are regarded as the eighth largest bird species based on their maximum mass of 39 kilograms. The young ones usually fly only short distances. They can also exhibit some kind of behavior, like flapping their wings, stretching their legs, and ruffling their feathers.
They can become very agitated when kept in isolation since they are highly social. The adults can detect strangers from a distance and can launch an attack when necessary. When you hear a high-pitched thrill from a turkey, it means that they are becoming violent.
3.6.1. Interesting Facts
- They share similar appearances and features to wild turkeys.
- They can come in different shades, like white, black, red, bronze, and gray.
- Their wings are dark and fleshy.
- They are attractive and come in different shades and colors.
- They communicate via vocalization.
- They have an average height of 122cm and are about 117cm in length. They are smaller when compared to ostriches.
- They are great swimmers and can run very fast.
3.7. Cinereous Vulture
This is known to be the oldest and largest living vulture in the world, with a length of 98 to 120cm. They have a wingspan of 2.5 to 3.1 m. The females weigh up to 14kg, while the males weigh up to 11.5kg.
They can be found in Spain, Portugal, and southern France. You can also find them in Turkey, Greece, and Central Middle East. They are known to stay in solitude. They prefer to stay alone and may form groups of 12 to 20 individuals.
Although they can fly, they do it at a very slow pace and only produce heavy flaps when the need arises. They are usually silent but can be noisemakers when their nests. This is the way they communicate with each other.
They feed mostly on carrion, and they also eat fish and reptiles. They are very loyal to their partners as they practice monogamy. They can form a bond that can last a lifetime. Their mating season starts from February to October and can be influenced by their location. Their incubation period lasts for 50 to 62 days.
They lay one egg per time and can also lay two eggs at once when the need arises.
3.7.1. Amazing Facts
- They are scavengers
- They take in enough oxygen when they are flying at great heights
- They don’t kill their food.
- You can find them in Pakistan, India, China, and Afghanistan
- Their preferred habitats are mountain tops and open fields where it would be easy for them to identify a carcass from a distance
3.8. Emperor Penguin
They are the largest species of penguins, where an average penguin is 45 inches tall. They are flightless and live on the Antarctic ice. They are known to have the ability to adapt to harsh weather environments. You can often find them in groups as they try to conserve warmth.
The females lay their eggs and forget about them while they go on a hunting trip. The males are the ones responsible for keeping the eggs warm. Instead of sitting on the eggs like other birds, they stand to protect the eggs by covering them with feathered skin.
You can find them in the Southern Ocean, where they are really active during night and day. They are great swimmers and can slide with their bellies when on land.
3.8.1. Interesting Facts
- They have great diving and swimming skills
- They have a special gland behind their eyes which helps them to filter their blood from salt
- They have invisible ears but a strong sense of hearing
- They are very powerful birds
3.9. Dalmatian Pelican
They belong to the pelican family and are known to be the largest members of the clan. Their feathers become silvery white during their breeding season. You can find them in Central Eurasia, Western Asia, North Africa, East Asia, and Central Asia.
They prefer to stay on ice during the winter period and travel in flocks. They are great swimmers and can fly really well. They are known to be diurnal birds as they mostly sleep at night.
They are silent birds but can make a lot of noise during their mating period. They are known to be carnivorous birds that feed on fish, small reptiles, aquatic crustaceans, and amphibians.
3.9.1. Fun Facts
- They have a throat pouch that they use as a cooling mechanism.
- They become really quiet when they perceive a threat
- They will flap their wings to scare their threat away
3.10. Common Ostrich
This is regarded as the largest bird in the world. They have an average mass of about 104kg and are 210cm in length. Compared to other birds, they are the fastest when it comes to speed. Their eggs are also the largest of all birds.
You can trace their origin to Africa, but they can be found all over the world as their leather and skin are used in the production of leather products.
You should know that they can go for days without water as they generate water internally. They also extract water from vegetation
4. Largest Flying Birds in the World
The wandering albatross is known to be the largest flying bird based on wingspan. Their wingspan is about 12.1 feet.
The second place is the white pelican with a 12-foot wingspan.
For the third place, it is the Southern royal albatross. It also has a 12-foot wingspan like the great white pelican, but it is slightly smaller
5. What Animals Prey on Birds?
You should know that birds play a very important role in various ecosystems. They also serve as food for different predators. Listed below are the animals that prey on birds:
Snakes: There are some species of snakes that feed on birds, especially the smaller ones. They devise a means to hunt and catch their prey as they use their jaws to swallow the birds.
Foxes: They eat varieties of prey with birds included.
Raptors: They are carnivorous as they feed on other birds. They also have really great hunting skills.
Crocodiles: They feed on birds that go close to the water where they reside.
6. In the End
You must have had shocking moments seeing the list of the largest birds in the world. These birds are mostly in the wild and can be spotted when you go on adventures. Now that you know what the largest bird in the world is, kindly share and leave a comment below. Kind regards!