John White
by on October 14, 2019

When looking at the heaviest bird in the world, there are two distinct categories. The first is the outright heaviest bird in the world and the second is the heaviest flying bird in the world.

The heaviest bird in the world is the Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) with an average weight of 104kg. Most subspecies of the Common Ostrich weigh between 63kg and 145kg. The North African subspecies of the Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus) is however the heaviest with a maximum weight of up to 154kg and a height of up to 2.74m (9.0 ft)!


The heaviest flying bird in the world is debatable as there are a few species with a similar weight range,  but the prize probably goes to the Kori Bustard (Ardeotis kori) with an average weight of 11.4kg (25 lb) and a range between 7kg  and 18kg (15 lb and 40 lb). There have been reports of big males weighing as much as 34kg (75 lb) and 40kg (88 lb).


Some claim that the Great Bustard, Dalmatian Pelican, Mute Swan or Andean Condor have higher average weights, however, all of these claims require citation in the List of Largest Birds in Wikipedia. The individual Wikipedia pages for each of these species show cited weight ranges for male birds (typically heavier than females for these species). Based on this information, the Kori Bustard shares the highest weights with the Great Bustard but has a slightly higher minimum weight. Therefore, it is fair to conclude that the Kori Bustard is the world’s heaviest flying bird.


What about the Elephant Bird?

If it were not for humans driving the Elephant Bird to extinction, it would definitely have held the crown for the heaviest bird by a significant margin. The Elephant Bird (Aepyornis maximus) weighed a staggering 730kg (1,609lb) and stood 3 m (9.8 ft) tall. The bird was native to the island of Madagascar and most probably went extinct in the 17th century.

David Attenborough was given this elephant bird egg whilst in Madagascar. Source: BBC


Size comparison of the Elephant Bird, Moa, Ostric etc. Source: PBS


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