Intriguing, inspiring, and powerful, the top 10 largest birds in the world tell you much about the world which we share with them. While most of the birds listed are too heavy to fly, each deserves a study because their numbers have an impact on our life.
Only a mother ostrich could love an ostrich chick. Ugly, fuzzy, and gray, the ostrich grows up to 8-feet or more. Its hefty body weight, long neck and longer legs, along with its nearly 8-foot wingspan keeps the ostrich from taking flight. Still, this big bird will run the dash up to 30 miles per hour. Native to Africa, the ostrich prefers fallen its fruits, grass, and flowers, but they will indulge themselves with the occasional snake or lizard.
2. Southern Cassowary:
This cassowary has a fiercely beautiful and striking face with a cobalt blue neck, paired red wattles, and a fearsome crest on the head. Like the ostrich, it is much too heavy to fly, and the father birds will incubate and care for their chicks. These birds live in Indonesia and have emigrated to islands off Australia and Papua New Guinea. The diet sticks largely to fruit and the occasional small vertebrate.
3. Northern Cassowary:
This cassowary has a dramatic neon orange neck and a lapis lazuli blue head. Also flightless, the Northern Cassowary sports only one wattle and a rounded boney casque atop its head. It has pretty much the same diet as its southern cousin, and its population in north New Guinea and nearby islands is also declining.
Ostrich-like and related to the cassowary, the Emu does not fly. It lives throughout Tasmania and Australia where it has been named the country’s national bird. Emus swim even if they do not fly. They sleep and drink infrequently, but they can kick with dangerous force. They are now often raised for their eggs and elegant plumage.
5. Emperor Penguin:
This native of Antarctica measures in at 48-inches tall. Half of its heavy weight is fat that protects it from its world’s extreme cold. Its standard black “tuxedo” absorbs and stores the sun’s heat. All things being equal, Emperors can live up to 50 years old, and the males protect their new eggs while the female waddles as far as 70 miles away to feeding opportunities.
6. Greater Rhea:
The Greater Rhea lives as much as 10 years in the wilds of South America. They do not fly, but their strong legs can outrun most predators. Otherwise, they will hide head down among the environment’s grasses and colors, camouflaged by their own coloring. Nonetheless, their numbers have been dwindling.
7. Dwarf Cassowary:
The smallest cassowary also inhabits New Guinea and its nearby islands. It has a smaller head casque than the other cassowaries, and it sports red coloring on its brilliant blue neck. It prefers the plains in mountain habitats where it feeds on fruits and small animals.
8. Lesser Rhea:
Native to southern South America where it can run very fast across the expansive grasslands they favor in the South American mountains. They feed on the grasses, seeds, and insects they find there.
9. Great Bustard:
The Great Bustard does fly, making it the largest flying bird. It feeds on grains, fruits, and invertebrates. Its rich coloring and brilliant feathers display like turkeys. They populate central Europe and temperate Asia, but they are reported near extinction. Efforts by British groups are working at restoring the Bustard’s numbers.
10. King Penguin:
The fatty King Penguin will dive 100 meters off the edge of the Antarctica coast to feed on shrimp, krill, and small fish. Their size and swimming strength have let them migrate to regions as far removed as the Falkland Islands. A ban on hunting and farming penguins has allowed their population to recover.
Birds are not just birds. There are ten thousand different species of birds. These largest of the birds have a mutual relationship with the world’s ecosystem. They are agents of dispersal and pollination. They control the environment consuming billions of insects, larvae, and this effectively protects grains and other food sources. And, they serve as bio-indicators. Like the canary in the coal mine, their population warns the world of environmental dangers.
You can’t cage a big bird, they don’t make good pets, but they remain key partners in o ecosystem.