Largest bird in the world: Meet the 9-foot, 300-pound feathered friend

Did you know that birds live in a more vibrant world than us? They can see a broader spectrum of colors not perceptible to humans, experts previously told USA TODAY.

Their vibrant colors can also help them impress mates, blend in, avoid predators and stay cool in hot temperatures. Plus, they make for great bird-watching. Even pigeons, with their dull colors, hold a certain iconic beauty for city dwellers.

But what about the birds you won’t see perched in your backyard? We’re breaking down the largest of the avian kingdom.

What is the biggest bird in the world?

The ostrich is the largest bird in the world. These flightless birds weigh between 220 and 350 pounds and stand about 7 to 9 feet tall, according to National Geographic. They’re also the fastest bird on land and can run up to 43 miles an hour.

But elephant birds, who lived more than 1,200 years ago, were likely the biggest birds to ever exist at over 1,500 pounds. Some even clocked in around 1,900 pounds, according to Scientific American. Their eggs were 150 times the size of a chicken egg.


The tallest bird to ever exist was the extinct South Island giant moa, native to New Zealand. Female giant moas could reach nearly 12 feet tall.

With such a large mass, it makes sense that most of the world’s heaviest birds are ratites or flightless. Here’s the list of the top 10 biggest birds in the world by maximum weight, according to BBC Wildlife Magazine:

  1. Common ostrich: 346 pounds

  2. Somali ostrich: 287 pounds

  3. Southern cassowary: 187 pounds

  4. Northern cassowary: 165 pounds

  5. Emu: 154 pounds

  6. Emperor penguin: 101 pounds

  7. Greater rhea: 88 pounds

  8. Domestic/wild turkey: 86 pounds

  9. Dwarf cassowary: 75 pounds

  10. Lesser rhea: 63 pounds

An ostrich couple out and looking for visitors at the Jackson Zoo in August 2020.
An ostrich couple out and looking for visitors at the Jackson Zoo in August 2020.

What is the largest flying bird?

Kori bustards are the largest flying birds, according to the United Kingdom's Natural History Museum. They live in southern Africa and can weigh about 42 pounds. They have a 9-foot wingspan.

Sarus cranes are the tallest flying birds at almost 6 feet tall. They're found in India, southeast Asia and northern Australia.

Which bird has the largest wingspan?

The wandering albatross has the largest wingspan of any living bird species. They typically measure around 8 to 11 feet, but the largest ever recorded was closer to 12 feet.

The marabou stark has the largest wingspan for land birds. The record wingspan for these birds is about 10.5 feet, according to the UK Natural History Museum.

What is my state bird? Winged symbols across the United States

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biggest bird in the world: Top 10 largest birds by weight, height