Biggest bird: What is the largest bird in the world?
From the Emu to the ostrich, many wonder which flying beast takes home the ticket for being bigger than all the rest. It's time to take a look at the world's largest bird.
From the long legs and the long neck of the ostrich to those piercing emu eyes and searing cassowary talons, birds come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Some dangerous, some harmless, and some endlessly stupid (looking at you, pigeons), feathered fellows deserve much more respect than they usually get, and we're here to give them exactly what they deserve.
So, which bird species holds the animal world record for being the biggest bird in the world? Which bird has the largest wingspan, which is the biggest flying bird, and which bird of prey impresses more than most?
Let's take flight!
What is the biggest bird in the world?
The largest bird in the world is the Somali ostrich, which towers 9 feet above the ground when fully grown. Large males can weigh as much as 300–350 pounds, making them capable of both hitting you with long and strong body parts, and with a great deal of weight as well.
This makes the Somali ostrich also one of the world's most dangerous birds, due to its highly territorial nature – a trait it shares with other types of ostrich as well. At such a heavy weight and large size, though, it'll probably come as no surprise that these fascinating creatures are incapable of flying.
Instead, they are remarkably strong and - perhaps more importantly - ridiculously fast. Capable of running at 40–50 miles per hour, the Somali ostrich is also the world's fastest bird on land. It's a remarkable creature and one that is not spoken about enough. It is generally found in the horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and, as their name suggests, Somalia.
You can recognize the Somali ostrich not just from its immense size and crushing weight, but also by its bright blue neck and its lack of the typical white ring that features on most other types of ostrich.
Fun fact: The emu competes with the ostrich for being the biggest birds in the world. Sadly, though, they only stand about 4.5-5.5 feet off the ground and weigh 70–80 pounds. Emus are also slower, though still fast, as they are only capable of reach about 30 miles per hour.
What is the largest bird of prey in the world?
With a wingspan of 9–11 feet and weighing as much as 30–35 pounds, the Andean condor is the biggest bird of prey in the world.
While nowhere near the size of the emu or the ostrich, what makes this creature so impressive is how powerful, fast, and dangerous it is.
A local of South and Central American (hence the name), the condor is primarily a scavenger, though they have been known to attack from time to time.
Interestingly, the women are actually the stronger, broader, and heavier of the Andean condor, and have been known to sometimes reach as large as 12 feet from the wing-to-wing.
The bird with the largest wingspan is also the biggest flying bird
The wandering albatross is the largest flying bird in the world and with that characteristic comes the largest wingspan. Measuring 10–12 feet across in terms of wingspan and weighing an impressive 12–16 pounds, it's a genuine wonder that these huge birds can even make it off the ground.
Yet, with their remarkable strength and huge wings they can fly huge distances, covering 9000–9500 miles at a time. In fact, once they reach their desired altitude, they glide most of that distance, flapping their wings only a couple of times every few hundred miles.
There are plenty of big birds out there
There are many incredibly large birds out there, so many that we had to list a few more of our favorites.
Here are a few other big birds to keep an eye out for:
- Emperor penguins
- Dalmation pelican
- Elephant bird
- White-tailed eagle
- Scarlet macaw
- Turkey vulture
Many big birds have a hard time surviving out there, especially with the changing climate. Hopefully in a few years time we'll still be able to celebrate these extraordinary creatures in the wild, and won't be limited only to the domain looking back on animals of the past.
For our favorite feathered friends, check out this flock of viral bird videos to make you smile.
Cover photo: Unsplash/Chris Stenger