Amazing Bird Records

Find out which birds are fastest, heaviest, smallest, have the greatest wingspan, have the longest bill, lay the largest clutch of eggs, have the most impressive migration path, and much more...

heaviest and tallest bird: ostrich at maximum 156 kg (345 lb) and 2.7 m (9 ft)

heaviest flying birth: great bustard at maximum 21 kg (46.3 lb)

largest extinct bird: Dromornis stirtoni of Australia at 454 kg (1,000 lb) and 3 m (10 ft)

tallest extinct bird: giant moa of New Zealand at 3.7 m (12 ft)

greatest wingspan: wandering albatross at up to 3.63 m (11 ft 11 in)

greatest wingspan of landbirds: Andean condor and marabou stork tied at 3.2 m (10.5 ft)

smallest bird: bee hummingbird at 5.7 cm (2.24 in) and 1.6 g (0.056 oz)

smallest flightless bird: inaccessible island rail at 12.5 cm (5 in) and 34.7 g (1.2 oz)

longest legs: ostrich longest legs relative to body length: black-winged stilt at 23 cm (9 in), or 60% of its height

absolute shortest legs: virtually non-existent in swifts (Apodidae)

longest toes relative to body length: northern jacana at 10 cm (4 in)

longest bill relative to body length: swordtailed hummingbird at 10.5 cm (4.13 in)

absolute longest bill: Australian pelican at 47 cm (18.5 in)

fastest-moving bird: diving peregrine falcon at 188 km/h (117 mph)

fastest flapping flight. white-throated needle-tailed swift at 170 km/h (106 mph)

fastest level-flight. red-breasted merganser at 161 km/h (100 mph)

absolute shortest bill: glossy swiftlet at just a few mm

largest and fleshiest tongue: flamingo

longest tongue relative to body size: wryneck at two-thirds of its body length excluding the tail

smallest hearts relative to body size: Central and South American tinamous at 1.6-3. 1 % of body weight

longest feathers: onagadori, a domestic strain of red jungle fowl, at 10.59 m (34.75 ft)

longest tailfeathers: crested argus pheasant at 173 cm (5.7 ft)

longest tail coverts: Indian and green peafowl at 160 cm (5.24 ft)

widest tail feathers: crested argus pheasant at 13 cm (5.1 in)

longest tail feathers relative to body length: fork-tailed flycatcher at 27 cm (10.75 in)

longest primary feathers relative to body length: permant-winged nightjar at 60 cm (2 fit)

shortest tails: virtually non-existent in kiwis, emus, rheas, cassowaries

greatest number of feathers: whistling swan at 25,216

lowest number of feathers: ruby-throated hummingbird at 940

most secondary flight feathers: wandering and royal albatrosses with 40 secondaries and 11 primaries on each wing

largest eyeball: ostrich with a diameter of 5 cm (2 in)

fastest-moving racing pigeon: 177 km/h (110 mph)

slowest-flying bird: American woodcock at 8 km/h (5 mph)

fastest wingbeat: hummingbirds, e.g., amethyst woodstar and horned sungem, at 90/sec

slowest wingbeat: vultures at 1/sec

longest soaring bird: albatrosses and condors

smallest soaring bird: swift

highest flying bird: Ruppell's griffon vulture at 11,274 in (7 mi)

most aerial bird: sooty terns at 3 to 10 years without landing

most aerial landbird: common swift at 3 years without landing

longest two-way migration: Arctic tern at 40,200 km (25,000 miles)

longest migration (assuming a coastal route): common tern at 26,000 km ( 16,210 miles) in January 1997

most aquatic bird: penguins with 75% of their lives spend in the sea

keenest sense of smell: kiwis

keenest sense of hearing: barn owl

keenest eyesight: diurnal raptors with 1 million cones per sq. mm in the retinal fovea

best light-gathering capacity at night: owls, e.g., tawny owl

greatest G-force (acceleration due to gravity): beak of red-headed woodpecker hitting bark at 20.9 km/h (13 mph)

highest daily frequency of pecking: 12,000 times by black woodpecker

most intelligent bird: African gray parrot, crows, "bait-fishing" green and striated herons

most talkative bird: African gray parrot with a vocabulary of 800 words

birds that use echolocation: cave swiftlets and oilbirds

largest recorded nesting bird colony: 136 million passenger pigeon nesting in an area in Wisconsin covering 1,942 sq km (750 sq mi)

most abundant bird: red-billed quelea at up to 10 billion

fastest running bird: ostrich at 97.5 km/h (60 mph)

fastest running flying bird: greater roadrunner at 42 km/h (26 mph)

fastest underwater swimming bird: gentoo penguin at 36 km/h (22.3 mph)

deepest dive for non-flying bird: emperor penguin at 540 m (1,772 ft)

deepest dive for a flying bird: thick-billed murre at 2 10 m (689 ft)

deepest dive for a flying bird under 210 g: Peruvian diving petrel at 83 m (272 ft)

longest submerged: emperor penguin at 18 minutes

greatest weight-carrying capacity: bald eagle lifting a 6.8 kg (15 lb) mule deer

greatest hibernator: poorwill with body temperature lowered to 18-20 degrees C (64.4-68 degrees F)

greatest bird mimic: marsh warbler with up to 84 songs

most songs Sung per unit time. 22,197 in 10 hours by a red-eyed vireo

coldest temperature regularly endured by a bird: average temperatures of -45.6 degrees C (-50 degrees F) for emperor penguins

coldest temperature endured by a bird: -62.5 degrees C (-80.5 degrees F) by snowy owl

coldest temperature of land where a bird has been recorded: -89.6 degrees C (-129 degrees F) in Vostok, Russia for south polar skua

warmest temperature regularly endured by a bird: larks and wheatears at 44-45 degrees C (111-113 degrees F)

lowest altitude for nesting: little green beeeater at 400 m (1,307 ft) below sea-level in the Dead Sea

longest fasting period: 134 days for incubating male emperor penguins

most northerly nesting bird: ivory gull at edge of pack ice in Arctic Circle

largest ground nest: dusky scrubfowl nest at 11 m (36 ft) wide and 4.9 m (16 ft) high with over 2,700 kg (300 tons) of forest floor litter

largest tree nest: bald eagle in Florida at 6.1 m (20 ft) deep, 2.9 m (9.5 ft) wide, and weighing 2,722 kg (almost 3 tons)

largest social nest: African social weavers with a 100-chamber nest structure 8.2 m (27 ft) in length and 1.8 m (6 ft) high

largest roofed nest: hamerkop at 2 m (6.5 ft) wide and 2 m (6.5 ft) deep

longest nest burrow: rhinoceros auklet at 8 m (26 ft)

highest tree nest: marbled murrelet at 45 m (148 ft)

smallest nest: Cuban bee and Vervain hummingbirds at 1.98 cm (0.78 in) in breadth and 1.98 - 3.0 cm (0.78 - 1.2 in) deep

foulest smelling nest: Eurasian hoopoe

greatest number of sperm storage tubules: turkey at 20,000

greatest longevity of sperm inside a female: turkey at 42 days

largest egg: ostrich measuring 17.8 by 14 cm (7 by 4.5 in)

largest egg laid by a passerine: 5 7 g (2 oz) by Australian lyrebirds

largest egg laid relative to body weight: little spotted kiwi at 26%

smallest egg laid relative to body weight: ostrich egg at 1.5%

smallest egg: West Indian vervain humming bird at 10 mm (0.39 in) in length and 0.375 g (0.0132 oz)

largest collection of bird skins: British Museum of Natural History with 1.25 million

most valuable bird: 8 billion domestic chickens produce 562 billion eggs annually

most valuable nest: gray-rumped swiftlet for bird's nest soup

roundest eggs: owls, tinamous

longest interval between eggs laid: maleo at 1012 day intervals

largest clutch laid by a nidicolous species: 19 eggs laid by a European blue tit

largest clutch laid by a nidifugous species: 28 by a bobwhite quail

largest average clutch size: 15-19 by a gray partridge

smallest clutch size: 1 egg laid every 2 years by albatrosses

greatest number of eggs laid consecutively: 146 by a mallard

longest uninterrupted incubation period: emperor penguin at 64-67 days

longest interrupted incubation period: wandering albatross and brown kiwi at 85 days

longest incubation period by a passerine species: 50 days for Australian lyrebird

shortest incubation period: 11 days by small passerines

longest fledging period of flying birds: wandering albatross at 278 days

greatest number of broods raised in one year: 21 by zebra finch

pair fastest to breeding maturity: common quail at 5 weeks

slowest to breeding maturity: royal and wandering albatrosses at 6-10 years

longest-lived wild bird: royal albatross at over 58 years

longest-lived captive bird: sulfur-crested cockatoo at over 80 years

largest domesticated bird: ostrich

earliest domesticated bird: jungle fowl at 3200 BC

heaviest domestic turkey: 37 kg (81 lb)

country with the most endangered birds: Indonesia with 126 (Brazil second with 121)

country with the highest percentage of its bird species endangered: New Zealand with 30%

country with the most introduced species: United States (Hawaii) with 68

most recent species of bird to be declared extinct: flightless Atitlan grebe of Guatemala in 1984

most recent North American bird to be declared extinct. dusky seaside sparrow, a race of seaside sparrow, in 1987

rarest bird in the world: ivory-billed woodpecker, Jerdon's courser

highest price paid for a bird book: $3.96 million (U.S.) for a set of John James Audubon's The Birds of America in 1989

highest price paid for a mounted bird: 9,000 British pounds for an extinct great auk by the Natural History Museum of Iceland on 1971

highest price paid for a live bird. 41,000 British pounds for a racing pigeon named Peter Pau in 1986

highest price paid for a cage bird. 5,000 British pounds for a hyacinth macaw

highest price paid for an egg: 1,000 British pounds for an egg of extinct Aepyornis maximus

first bird featured on a U.S. postage stamp: bald eagle

Bird Records
Taken from The Bird Almanac
by David M. Bird, PhD

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