There are over 11,000 species of birds in the world, with some measuring species only a few inches long (like the bee hummingbird!) and others standing at several feet tall. So who is the biggest bird in the world? You might be shocked to find out that you may have already seen one if you’ve ever visited a wildlife sanctuary.
We’ve gathered some fun facts about the world’s largest bird, and it turns out that this species has a lot of unique characteristics that set it apart from other large birds.
What is the biggest bird in the world?
The world’s biggest bird is actually the common ostrich!
With their incredibly long legs and slender necks to match, the ostrich is the largest bird in the entire world, standing at almost 9 feet tall and weighing around 250 to 300 pounds.
And almost everything about the ostrich is big! Here are a few quick facts that prove the ostrich is the giant of the bird world:
- An ostrich’s wingspan is over 6 feet long.
- Ostrich eggs weigh as much as two dozen chicken eggs (about 3 pounds) and are about 6 inches long.
- An ostrich’s nest may be about 9 to 10 feet wide, and ostriches place about 20 eggs in a communal nest guarded by the leader hen.
- Baby ostriches are also bigger than most adult bird species — they’re just slightly larger than the average chicken.
- The ostrich’s legs are so long that they can cover about 10 feet in a single stride.
- These birds also have the largest eyes of any land animal, measuring 2 inches across, which helps them see predators from great distances. (Their eyes are actually bigger than their brains!)
- Though they only have two toes on each foot, ostriches can grow claws that are about 4 inches long.
How else are ostriches unique?
Not only are ostriches the world’s largest birds, but they’re also the fastest running birds in the world. Because they can’t fly, ostriches have adapted to reach running speeds of up to 43 miles per hour!
Their super-long legs can also be used to defend themselves against predators, like lions.
But ostriches are more likely to hide from predators than fight, using their mottled feathers as camouflage. They’ll lay down in the tall African grasses and stretch their necks as flat as they can on the ground to blend in with their surroundings. (However, that old belief that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they get scared is actually a myth! They don’t do that at all.)
What do ostriches eat?
Although they stand out from the rest of their bird cousins, ostriches eat similar diets to most other birds. They snack on roots, leaves, flowers, grasses, succulents and insects, too. Sometimes they might snag a small lizard or frog if one hops in front of them.
Ostriches can also go for days without water, surviving on moisture from the greens they eat until they can find a water source.
These birds also have three stomachs and eat pebbles to help grind up their food during the digestion process!
How long do ostriches live?
Ostriches can live well into their 50s, with the average lifespan of wild ostriches in Africa being about 30 to 45 years. In captivity, ostriches can live into their 60s.
Where do ostriches live?
In the wild, ostriches live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Some can also be found in Australia, but ostriches are not native to that continent — these wild birds originally came from a farm that free-ranged them.
Ostriches can also live protected in wildlife sanctuaries, so if you haven’t seen one yet, then you can look into visiting a sanctuary that houses these wonderful birds!
There’s no other bird quite like the ostrich when it comes to size, speed and behavior. They’re a pretty unique species who are surely set apart from their fellow feathered cousins!