Flightless birds. List of flightless birds

Flightless birds. List of flightless birds
Flightless birds. List of flightless birds

Birds that can't fly are just as weird as animals that can't walk or fish that can't swim. Why, then, do these creatures need wings if they cannot lift them into the air? Nevertheless, on our planet there are whole detachments of such creatures. Some live in the sultry African savannah, others live on the icy Antarctic shores, and still others live on the islands of New Zealand.

flightless birds list


If we compare all the species of birds that exist on our planet, then flightless birds occupy an insignificant part compared to flyers. Why is that? The thing is that the ability to fly helps them survive in the wild. Wings not only save birds from predatory animals, but also make it possible to get their own food. So, in search of food, birds are able to travel great distances, and this is much more convenient than scouring the ground in search of food. In addition, flyers can build their nestsfor raising offspring at a considerable height, so that a dangerous enemy cannot reach the chicks. It turns out that it is much easier for birds that can fly to survive in a cruel world called "wildlife". This ability helped them become the second largest class of vertebrates. So, for example, scientists count 8500 different species of birds, but there are only 4000 species of mammals. If flying is such an important way for birds to survive, then why don't some of them have this skill? How did flightless birds adapt to survive? We will analyze examples below. Scientists believe that earlier these birds also knew how to fly, but in the course of evolution they lost this ability. Well, let's look at what such strange creatures are.

flightless birds examples

Flightless birds: list

  1. Penguin-shaped. These creatures spend most of their lives in the water. As a result of evolution, their wings have changed and resemble flippers, thanks to which they have become excellent swimmers.
  2. Ostrich-like. The ostrich is the largest flightless bird. It's too heavy to fly. To lift such a mass into the air, huge wings are required, respectively, and the musculature of the wing should become even more massive and stronger.
  3. Nanda-shaped. The ratio of the bearing surface of the wing and the size of the body of these birds is such that even intense flapping of the wings will not lift the bird into the air.
  4. Cassuaries. Often this detachment is combined with ostriches. It includes two families: Emu andCassowaries.
  5. Kiwifruit. Kiwis are flightless ratites. Their weight is 3-3.5 kg, and their length is 50-80 cm. The body of this creature is covered with hair-like feathers.
  6. Tristan shepherd boy. Belongs to the order Cranes. This is the smallest representative of flightless birds. Its dimensions are 13-15 cm, and its weight is only 37-40 g. The mentioned species lives on one of the islands of Tristan da Cunha.
  7. Kakapo parrot. Another name is an owl parrot. This rather large and rare representative of the species is found in humid forests on the South Island of New Zealand.
  8. flightless birds penguins

Flightless Birds: Penguins

These creatures are excellent swimmers and divers. They are found only in the southern hemisphere of our planet. Most of them live in Antarctica, but some species can survive in temperate and even tropical climates. Some representatives of penguins spend up to 75% of their lives in water. These flightless birds can stay underwater thanks to their heavy, hard bones, which act as ballast, much like a heavy belt for a diver. Penguin wings have evolved into fins. They help control movement in the aquatic environment at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. These birds have a streamlined body, paddle-shaped legs, an insulating layer of fat, and waterproof feathers. All these properties allow the penguin to feel comfortable even in icy water. To keep warm, they have very stiff and very densely spaced feathers that provide waterproofing. Moreone property that allows survival in the wild is the unique white and black coloration of the birds in question. It makes the penguin invisible to predators both from below and from above. These birds live in colonies reaching the number of several thousand individuals. Penguins are the most numerous representatives of "non-flyers". So, up to 24 million of these creatures visit the coast of Antarctica every year.

large flightless bird


African ostriches are the largest birds on our planet. Their height can reach 2.7 meters, and weight - 160 kg. These flightless birds feed on grass, tree shoots and shrubs, do not disdain insects and small vertebrates. In nature, the creatures in question live in small groups - one male and several females. Ostriches have very sharp eyesight and excellent hearing. They are excellent runners. In case of danger, an ostrich can reach speeds of up to 70 km / h. In addition, he is an excellent fighter, his two-toed paws are a serious weapon. Judge for yourself: for one centimeter of the body when this bird kicks, there is a force of 50 kg. In addition to high speed and excellent fighting qualities, the ostrich is distinguished by the ability to disguise itself well. In case of danger, it lies down and presses its neck and head to the ground, as a result it is difficult to distinguish it from an ordinary bush. As you can see, this representative of the “non-flyers” has perfectly adapted to survive in the wild.


These flightless birds are common in South America: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay andParaguay. They inhabit the pampas (open spaces, steppes), covered with herbs and shrubs. An adult individual reaches a length of 140 cm, its weight is 20-25 kg. In appearance and lifestyle, the nandu resembles an ostrich, but scientists believe that these are completely different species. In nature, these birds live in groups of up to 30 individuals. In case of danger, an adult rhea can reach speeds of up to 60 km / h. Among natural predators capable of preying on adults are jaguars and cougars. But the young are suffering from the attacks of wild dogs. In addition, armadillos love to destroy the nests of these birds.


These flightless birds have much in common with ostriches, but their main difference is their three-toed paw. They are found in Australia and New Guinea. There are only two families in this detachment: Emu and Cassowaries. The latter reach 170 cm in length, their weight is 80 kg. They are characterized by a laterally compressed beak and a horn-like "helmet" on the head. Unlike ostriches and nandu, cassowaries prefer to live in forest thickets. They feed on fallen trees and small animals. Otherwise, the representatives of this detachment are similar to their close relatives - ostriches.

flightless birds


Representatives of this species are nocturnal, living in the dense forests of New Zealand. During the day, kiwis hide in bushes and dense thickets of the forest, and at night they wander in search of food, which they find thanks to their well-developed sense of smell. They feed on worms and other invertebrates, which are pulled out of the damp soil. With the help of a longbeak these birds not only get food, but also make small depressions in the forest floor, in which they hide themselves.

Tristan shepherd boy

This is the smallest flightless bird on Earth. Now this species is preserved only on the island of Inaccessible (it is free from people and predators) of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. Previously, these birds were found in abundance on all nearby islands, but the cats brought by the white man completely destroyed this species on them. Shepherd prefers open meadows and fern thickets. Feeds on moths, earthworms, seeds and berries.

Kakapo parrot

This bird is listed in the Red Book. She cannot fly, but she can glide from high ground to the ground. Despite the presence of full-fledged wings, the kakapo has weak muscles and heavy bones without air cavities. The bird is nocturnal and feeds on fern leaves, mosses, berries and mushrooms.

Extinct flightless birds

To date, the most famous extinct "non-flyers" are the wingless auk and the dodo bird. The first of them belonged to the Chistikov family. The length of her body was 70 cm. The wings were quite small, but well adapted for rowing under water. The bird was completely exterminated in the 19th century. Dodo, or Mauritian dodo, is an extinct flightless bird that inhabited the Mauritius islands in the Indian Ocean. It was completely exterminated by the white man and imported cats during the expansion of these lands.

extinct flightless bird


So we looked at howflightless birds have adapted to survive in the wild. The list of them, as you can see, is, in principle, quite diverse. Scientists believe that the first "non-flyers" appeared on the islands due to the fact that the food supply there was abundant, and there were no predators at all. Probably, this explains the fact that under the mentioned conditions, individuals with both developed and underdeveloped wings, or even without them, survived equally.

Popular topic