Discover more about the biggest birds on the earth, no matter how you describe them: tallest birds, heaviest birds, longest birds, largest living bird, birds with the largest wingspan, largest flying birds, or any other category you can think of! Read our compilation below!
From the smallest birds, like the bee hummingbird, to the non-flying giants, like ostriches, emus, and cassowaries, birds come in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Here are our rankings of the top 15 largest birds in the world, ordered by height, keeping this context in mind.
Up to 2.8 meters tall and 160 kg
What bird in the world is the largest? The common ostrich (Struthio camelus) is without a doubt the largest bird in the world.
It is the tallest and heaviest, averaging over 2 meters in height (and occasionally reaching 2.8 meters), and weighing up to 160 kilograms. The ostrich is the fastest animal on two legs and is, of course, a flightless bird at this size, but it can outrun many other animals thanks to its top speed of 69 km/h.
Their large, strong legs serve as both offensive and defensive tools, packing a powerful kick for would-be predators. Fun fact about ostriches: they can go days without water by producing their own water internally and obtaining it from vegetation.
Up to 2.7 meters tall and 130 kg
Before 2014, the Somali ostrich was classified as a separate species, a subspecies of the common ostrich. The Somali ostrich, which is native to Somalia and some regions of Ethiopia and Kenya, is often a touch lighter than its common ostrich relative but is just as outstanding in terms of running speed, covering 5 meters in a single stride!
60 kg and up to 1.9 meters tall
Similar to a shaggier, slightly smaller ostrich, Australia’s emus are not designed for flight. The species’ females, which are larger than the males and can grow to a height of 1.9 meters, are the third-largest birds in the world. They are swift birds as well, with a top speed of 48 kph, and they run with stability thanks to their three-toed feet and small wings.
85 kg and up to 1.8 meters tall
Huge, flightless, and all-black, the southern cassowary can be found in New Guinea, Indonesia, and northeastern Australia. They are one of three species of cassowary and are also known as double-wattled cassowaries, Australian cassowaries, and two-wattled cassowaries.
The southern cassowary, which is also the fourth-largest bird in the world, asserts that it is also the most dangerous bird ever. They have thick, 13-centimeter claws on each of their vast feet that they can kick out in defense and have been known to murder people.
Up to 15 kg and 1.75 meters tall
The largest and heaviest flying bird in the world, the pelican can grow to a height of 1.75 meters and weigh up to 15 kilos. Native to Eurasia, the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is typically seen in rivers, lakes, and estuaries in southern Europe, Russia, India, and China.
They are gregarious birds that mate for life, travel, and live primarily in flocks. On ground, they don’t appear particularly graceful, but they have powerful swimming and flying abilities.
70 kg and up to 1.7 meters tall
The northern cassowary, a smaller relative of the southern cassowary, is indigenous to northern New Guinea. The females of the species can weigh up to 70 kilograms and can reach a height of 1.7 meters, making them larger than the males. The northern cassowary, also known as the single or one-wattled cassowary or gold-necked cassowary, can run for brief periods at a speed of 50 kilometers per hour despite having a stocky physique.
Trumpeter and Mute Swans
1.7 meters tall and 14 kilograms maximum
Both mute swans (Cygnus olor) and trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) are among the heaviest flying birds on Earth and have a similar physique, height, and weight.
These swans have a deadly side when defending their families or territory, rising upright and hissing or attacking intruders with their beaks and wings. Although they appear graceful and attractive. Human attacks on land and in the water are fairly frequent.
1.5 meters tall and 35 kg max
The largest birds in the Americas are called greater rheas (Rhea americana), and they are indigenous to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The larger rhea, like so many other birds on this list, is flightless and swift, with a top speed of 35 kilometers per hour.
During the non-breeding season, they congregate in flocks of up to 100 birds to protect themselves from predators in addition to their fast speeds.
Up to 8 kg and 1.5 meters tall
Large wading birds known as marabou storks (Leptoptilos crumenifer) can be found in Africa of the Sahara in both wet and dry habitats, frequently close to populated areas, particularly landfills. Marabous are scavengers that eat anything, including dead elephants, termites, flamingos, and small birds and mammals. Along with other scavengers like vultures and hyenas, they consume carcasses as well.
They have an uncommon appearance—bald with stray hair—and may be deserving of being included among the “ugly five.” They can fly up to 3.2 meters in the air and stand 1.5 meters tall. The hollow bones in their feet and legs are an adaptation that helps maribou storks fly.
1.5 meters tall and 6 kilograms max
Balaeniceps rex, the sole shoebill stork, is a massive bird that may reach heights of 1.5 meters. Males often have longer bills and are taller than females. All shoebills have slaty, blue-gray feathers with black tips and green tints. They are mostly carnivorous birds, and thanks to their size and huge beak, they can hunt anything from catfish to water snakes to the occasional monitor lizard.
Up to 39 kilograms and 1.3 meters tall
The native to North America species of turkey includes both wild and farmed varieties. However, due to their selective breeding to be so large, domestic turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo f. domestica) are unable to fly like wild turkeys. Since they can’t fly, their breast muscles aren’t used, resulting in white breast meat as opposed to the black, gamey breast meat of wild turkeys.
Up to 24 kilograms and 1.3 meters tall
Only found in Antarctica, emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are the tallest and heaviest of all penguins. Despite being flightless and seeming identical to females in terms of size and color, male and female emperor penguins serve significantly distinct purposes throughout the breeding season.
Hundreds of male Emperor penguins gather for two months during the dark Antarctic winter to shield their eggs from the bitter cold while the ladies go out to sea to hunt. Males lose about half of their body weight at this time.
20 kg and up to 1 meter tall
The smaller rhea, sometimes known as Darwin’s rhea, is up to 1 meter long and weighs about 20 kilos. It can be found in South America, where it frolics in both the wide Patagonian steppe and the Andean altiplano. Male lesser rheas tend to their young birds, and they can be seen alone or in small groups.
18 kg and up to 1 meter tall
In addition to Tierra del Fuego in the southernmost tip of South America, a few islands in the far regions of Antarctica are home to king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus). With weights of 18 kilos and heights of 1 meter, they are the second species of penguins on our list and are roughly the same size as the largest flying birds.
13 kg and up to 1 meter tall
The dwarf cassowary (Casuarius bennetti), the smallest of the cassowary species but yet large enough to be included on this list, is also known as Bennett’s cassowary, little cassowary, mountain cassowary, and mooruk. Only highland forests up to 3,300 meters in elevation in New Guinea, New Britain, and Yapen Island are home to dwarf cassowaries.
10 kilograms and up to 1 meter tall
The largest and heaviest bird of prey in the entire world is the cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus). This Old World vulture has a traditional vulture’s featherless head to prevent a buildup of blood when it eats, superb eyesight that enables it to identify carrion while in flight.
Biggest bird in the world, by wingspan: Wandering Albatross
The wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) has the widest wingspan of any living bird on Earth, measuring up to 3.7 meters. With such a large wingspan, albatrosses are able to glide for long distances without having to flap their wings, which contributes to the description of wandering albatrosses as birds that spend the most of their lives in flight and only come to land to nest and eat.
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Largest Flying Land Birds in the Americas: California and Andean Condors
The two largest flying birds in North and South America, are the California and Andean condors. Both are long-lived animals that scavenge on dead mammals while inhabiting at opposite ends of the Americas.
The California condor has a body length of about 1.4 meters compared to the Andean condor’s 1.2 meters. However, the Andean condor is the largest of the two birds in terms of weight (15 kilograms) and wingspan (3.3 meters).
Which of the enormous birds on this list surprised you? Or have you ever spotted one of them in the wild?