Birds stand apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Many of them are very beautiful, with bright plumage, seeming weightless as they float in the air. But even among them there are real giants, capable of surprising by their size and structure. And among the very large birds there are flying birds, not just "hikers. What are the ten largest birds in the world?
1. The African Ostrich
Even a schoolboy knows that the largest bird in the world is the African ostrich. This giant can reach an incredible three meters in height and weigh from 130 to 200 kilograms. Such dimensions and small wings block the way to the sky, but he makes up for it with sprinting qualities - the bird is able to rush at a speed of 80 km/h! Moreover even a cheetah can hardly catch up with him because he can sharply change his direction at full speed maneuvering with short wings which no one else can do.
This proud bird is not so cowardly - it can easily kill a man with a kick of its trained leg. Today the only species of African ostrich survives. Its name in Greek means "sparrow-camel" - it does indeed have a small head like a sparrow and a huge body of a humpbacked camel on long legs, in addition, it can move easily in the sand, just like a camel. Contrary to the well-known saying, the ostrich never hides its head in the sand, seeking to fend off difficult situations. Simply, sometimes, after a long run, its head sinks to the ground in exhaustion, almost touching it.
2. Southern (Helmeted) Casuar
This largest bird in Australia is found in the tropical forests of Indonesia and is second in size only to the African ostrich. This wingless bird is 1.5 meters tall and weighs up to 80 kg, which is close to human parameters. The Casuar has very thick and powerful legs, which are capable of accelerating the body up to 48 km/h. Helmet-bearing cazoars feed on insects, grass and mushrooms. Their females lay eggs in summer.
This is a large Australian bird, weighing up to 60 kg at a height of 150-190 cm. They mainly inhabit savannahs and forests and feed on plants, their fruits and seeds, some insects, they are not squeamish about lizards. In addition to food, they periodically swallow pebbles, which contribute to the grinding of food in the stomach. Due to their very long legs, emus can accelerate up to 50 km/h. These birds breed in winter when the female lays a single egg weighing 0.5 kg, dark green in color. The emu used to be classified as an ostrich, but now it is classified as a cazuar.
4. Imperial Penguin
Another large bird looks completely different - the emperor penguin. Its parameters correspond to a fat junior schoolboy: its height is 120 cm and its weight is 40-45 kg. The penguin looks very clumsy on land, but is an excellent swimmer and diver. He constantly hunts for fish in the icy waters of Antarctica, is able to chase it underwater for up to 15 minutes. Penguins are protected from the cold by a thick layer of fat and a special feather structure.
Penguins settle in large colonies, where they raise their chicks together, taking them in a tight ring. In the most severe frosts, they bask collectively, their bodies pressed tightly against each other; at this time, the temperature between them may rise to +35 degrees. Emperor penguins look touching and funny in their black tuxedos at the same time, they are devoted and intelligent birds - the parents hatch a single egg one by one, and among the collective nursery they unmistakably find their favorite chick. The main enemy of emperor penguins on the shore is the petrel, which suddenly swoops in from nowhere, quickly grabs the chick and also quickly flies away. At sea, the enemies of penguins are orcas.
5. Northern (large) Nandu
This endemic flightless inhabitant of South America grows up to 140 centimeters and weighs up to 27 kilograms. The great nandu also has large wings and balances while running, especially when it changes direction. These birds eat insects, lizards and even small birds. The Northern Nandu can use its powerful legs for self-defense. During the breeding season, the male mates with several females at once, and they lay all their eggs in one nest. As a result, more than 50 eggs can be found in such a nest. On average, these birds live 10 years.
6. Great African Bustard
The great bustard is one of the heaviest birds that never learned to fly. At a height of 110 cm, it can weigh 20 kg. Great bustards nest in the semi-deserts and deserts of Eurasia, and their range extends from Spain to the Mongolian steppes. The great bustard is the largest flying bird of our time, but it spends most of its life on the ground in search of food. They eat berries, seeds, insects, lizards and snakes. In spite of their massive size, great bustards have learned to control air currents, and they take off like heavy airplanes - they have to make a long run.
Mating bustards are engaged in mating at certain times: either at 8 am or 4-5 pm, but never at noon. As soon as the chicks hatch, the males leave the females, leaving all further worries to their care.
7. Andean Condor
The largest flying predators live in the South American Cordilleras, the Andes. They are called Andean condors. Their size is impressive: they are 1.2-1.3 m tall, weigh 11-15 kg and have a wingspan of 3 m. The flight of the condor in the sky fascinates: it practically does not flap its wings, but captures the air currents and is able to fly up to 200 km a day. Condors were once widespread in South America, but now they are found only in the Andes, and this majestic bird has been listed in the Red Book. Many readers learned about the condor from the novel "Children of Captain Grant" by Jules Verne, where this giant was able to lift the emotionless body of a teenager into its nest. And although in the novel everything ended well for the young man, but in reality, the condor is a formidable rival - he is able to carry in his claws the prey weighing much more than himself. He is a scavenger, though, keeping the mountain ecosystem in balance.
8. Curly Pelican
The Curly Pelican, which lives in Europe and South Asia, is an ancient and heavy bird. It can reach a height of 180 cm and weigh 14 kg. And the wingspan of this species of pelican can reach an incredible 3.4 meters. In appearance, the curly pelican is quite similar to the great white pelican, but somewhat larger in size than it and other relatives. The beak of the Dalmatian pelican, which reaches half a meter, is the second longest of all birds. The main food of pelicans is fish, as well as other sea creatures. In a day, a voracious pelican can eat up to 2 kilograms of fish. Curly pelicans especially like catfish, carp, eel and perch.
9. Mute Swan
This incredibly beautiful, graceful bird, smoothly gliding along the water surface and reflected in it as in a mirror, can stretch to its full height and reach 180 cm and weigh on average 8-13 kg, although some specimens can eat up to 22.5 kg. All these figures allowed the Mute Swan to join the list of the largest birds in the world.
This beauty has an unusually long and graceful neck, which, by the way, is not necessary for him to impress admirers of nature. Dipping his head under the water, the swan skilfully searches for food, which can be small fish, seaweed, insect larvae, etc. The Mute Swan's wingspan reaches 2.4 meters. They are considered to be rather clever birds, though slightly aggressive, in any case, they perfectly recognize those people, who feed and take care of them. They are also faithful spouses.
10. The Wandering Albatross
This large seabird can reach a length of 117 cm. It lives mostly in the North Pacific Ocean and off the coast of Antarctica. There are 24 species of albatrosses in the world, but the largest of them is the wandering one, weighing up to 12 kg. It feeds on fish and squid and is able to drink ocean water in large quantities. Almost continuously, this "glider" either hovers low above the waves or sways on them. It hardly ever appears on land. Only during the breeding season the wandering albatrosses gather in colonies on remote islands, and the rest of the time they are solitary. Their average lifespan is 10-30 years, but some individuals live up to 50 years.
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