The 13 Heaviest Birds That Can Fly

These birds have typically evolved over the years to have short, useless wings that cannot sustain flight, birds like the ostrich, emu, or rhea.

All over the world, large, flying birds populate the skies and seas: vultures, bustards, swans and more.

These birds are heavy, ranging from 22 to 44 pounds.

Despite their weight and constant gravity, these heavy birds find ways to fly.

These are the 11 heaviest flying birds in the world!

1. Great Bustard (Otis tarda)

Part of: Bustard family (related to cranes and rails) Weight: 18-44 pounds / 8-20 kilograms Wingspan: males 7-8 feet / 210-250 centimeters Found in: Europe and throughout Central Asia

The Great Bustard of Europe and Central Asia takes 1st place as the heaviest flying bird in the world.

With a maximum weight of 44 pounds, these birds are impressing ornithologists, who have found that the great bustard is capable of migrating over 2,000 miles.

The Great Bustard is found in habitats such as grasslands or steppes.

During mating season, the male Great Bustard exhibits more vivid coloring and thin, long feathers near its beak, suggesting whiskers or a moustache!

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Part of: Bustard family (related to cranes and rails) Weight: 24-42 lbs / 11-19 kg Wingspan: males 7.5-9 ft / 230-275 cm Found in: Eastern and southern Africa

Africa is home to the world’s largest non-flying bird species – the ostrich.

But it could also be home to the largest flying bird species – the Kori Bustard!

Although most credit the Great Bustard of Europe and Central Asia as the largest flying bird, the kori bustard’s size is quite comparable to its distant Eurasian relative.

The kori bustard lives in the African grasslands and savannas and feeds on plants, berries, snakes and lizards.

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3. Indian Great Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps)

Part of: Bustard family (related to cranes and rails) Weight: 13-40 lbs / 6-18 kg Wingspan: males 7-8 ft / 210-250 cm Distribution: Sparse in the Indian subcontinent

The Indian Great Bustard is the third largest flying bird alive today.

Like their distant bustard relatives, the great Indian bustard is at home among the grasslands of the Indian subcontinent, feeding on an omnivore diet fit for a bird of its size.

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Part of: Waterfowl subfamily Anatidae (related to ducks and geese) Weight: 21-38 pounds / 9.5-17 kilograms Wingspan: males 6.6 feet / 203 centimeters Found in: North America

Trumpeter swans are large migratory waterbirds that spend summers in Alaska and western Canada and winter further south in the continental United States. These elegant, snow-white birds form strong bonds with their mates, often remaining loyal to them until one of them dies.

The trumpeter swan is the largest water bird in North America.

The Trumpeter Swan requires a running start; simultaneously flapping their wings and paddling their feet across the surface of the water to gain enough speed to ensure takeoff.

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5. Mute swan (Cygnas olor)

Part of: waterfowl subfamily Anatidae (related to ducks and geese) Weight: 22-31.5 pounds / 10-14.3 kilograms Wingspan: males 6.8-7.8 feet / 207-237 centimeters Occurrence: throughout northern hemisphere (North America, Europe, Asia)

Mute swans are found in North America, but this majestic white bird is not native to America.

The natural range of the mute swan exists in Europe and Asia.

The male mute swan is unique in that during mating season, the black knob that sits on its beak gets larger, making it one of the easiest ways to distinguish between the sexes.

Also Read: 5 Best Birdhouses (To Attract Nesting Birds)

6. Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

Part of: Waterfowl subfamily Anatidae (related to ducks and geese) Weight: 16.3-30.8 pounds / 7.4-14 kilograms Wingspan: 6.6-9 feet / 200-275 centimeters Found in: Europe, Central – and North Asia.

The whooper swan is another Eurasian bird that migrates extensively between its summer and winter ranges.

Some whooper swans have even settled in North America, but only on the west coast.

These birds established themselves in America by flying the route across the Bering Sea.

Instead, their beak is shaped like a long, angular slope colored black and yellow.

Also Read: 12 Tips On How To Keep Squirrels Away From Birdhouses

7. Andean condor (Vultur condor)

Part of the family Cathartidae (New World vultures) Weight: Up to 30 pounds/Up to 13.6 kilograms Wingspan: 10 feet/305 centimeters Found in: South America, specifically the Andes

The Andean condor lives high in the Andes.

Part of the reason these birds prefer the high cliffs is that it’s easier for their large wings to capture the warm, rising air, allowing the bird to fly with minimal effort.

The Andean condor may not have the largest wingspan, but its wings have the largest area.

Part of: Pelecaniformes family, medium to large seabirds Weight: 23.5-29 pounds / 10.5-13 kilograms Wingspan: 10.1-11.3 feet / 310-345 centimeters Found in: Europe and Asia

The Dalmatian pelican is the largest pelican within the Pelecaniformes family.

These birds have a huge wingspan that can reach 11 feet.

Often working in groups, these birds will lazily float on the water before diving their heads below the surface to pick up fish.

9. Black Vulture or Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus)

Part of: Old World VultureWeight: 15-27.5 pounds / 7-12.5 kilogramsWingspan: 8-10 feet / 250-295 centimetersFound in: Europe and Asia

The black vulture is the second largest bird of prey after the Andean condor.

These vultures are found in Europe and Asia.

Part of: Old World Vulture Weight: 18-26 pounds/8-12 kilograms Wingspan: 9-10 feet/270-300 cm Occurrence: Central Asia only, particularly the Himalayan Mountains and Tibetan Plateau

The Himalayan vulture is a master of soaring.

This bird is often seen gliding 5,000 meters above sea level among the high mountains that house the world’s tallest peaks.

These large birds use their massive wings and warm air pockets to soar with minimal effort.

Part of: Diomedeidae family, which consists of large seabirds Weight: Up to 22 pounds/10 kilograms Wingspan: Males 8.2-11.8 feet/250-360 centimeters Occurrence: Throughout the Southern Hemisphere oceans

The wandering albatross is a remarkable bird.

Breeding pairs typically mate for life, but only raise a chick every two years.

This incredible bird comes last on our list at 22 pounds.

The truly impressive feature of this bird is its wingspan.

The wandering albatross has a massive wingspan of 11-12 feet, which helps it glide effortlessly for hours!

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